first team / Special Report

Freeze Frame: Jérémy Toulalan

Published on the 09 August 2006 à 15:30 by S.R

Signing “I was tense but happy that day. You couldn’t really tell, on the screen, in the photos, or in the press-releases… but I was really happy to come here. I made the right choice, it was the best thing to do. Whatever happens from here on in, good or bad, it’s all positive. OL had already approached me a year ago. I met Jean-Michel Aulas, and then Coach Houllier who made their intentions clear to me. When you get an offer like that, you immediately think about what’s the best thing for your career, and in this case, as it happened, when the best club in France and one of the best in Europe approaches you, you don’t need to think too hard. Of all these photos, this is the image which speaks to me the most. It’s a big decision to make. Leaving the club where I started my career, the town where I was born, it wasn’t easy. But that was the price I had to pay for this opportunity, because now I know I did the right thing.” Ex-Cornflower “Against the Netherlands, we got off to a bad start before coming back into the game in the second half. Physically, it was a tough match. That was my last experience with ‘les Espoirs’. It’s a good memory for me… it was a great group. Things were good, despite the changes in the team… and changes of coach. It was a real pleasure to be able to progress to that level. Being from Nantes, it was sort of my very own European Cup, my compensation for not being able to play in the Champions League or U.E.F.A. Cup.” World Cup? “I’ve heard it said that my name came up in the press after Djibril Cissé’s injury. I didn’t pay any attention because I was on holidays. I was only thinking about getting well rested so that I could get stuck into the new season in my new colours. So I watched all the French matches as a spectator. It’s true that it gives you a taste for it. Competition at that level is what every player dreams of. (…) The way to get there is by performing at club level.? First Training Session “It went well. In this picture, and lots of others, I’m with Toto, who was also signed by OL this summer. The fact that we arrived at the same time, and stayed in the same hotel to begin with brought us closer. I was in a hurry to get back on the pitch, to get training, meet the team, play the pre-season matches. There’s always a bit of nervousness. “Is it going to go well? Personally?... and above all, as a team?” Still, I knew I shouldn’t think about it too much. Better to have a clear head, and keep calm, rather than charging in with my head down.” At Tignes? “I’d heard a lot about it. It went well overall, except for the Thursday and the Friday morning, when we had two pretty gruelling physical training sessions. The training-camp was also designed to bring us all closer, and help us bond as a group.” First Official Match “Winning on penalties really cemented the team in this crucial game. It’s very important, mentally. It’s at the difficult moments that the real links are forged, and this match was no walk in the park. The way it happened – the fact that we got back and equalised, and then came out on top in the penalty shoot-out – that gives us ammunition, strength, character…” Return to La Beaujoire “It was a huge thrill to come back to Nantes, and it went pretty well for us… and for me. My first championship match not wearing the Canaries’ strip… still, a good memory. In a match like that one, there’s a tendency to think that I would push it a bit, be anxious to go that bit further, given that the press were focussing even more on me… but there’s nothing in it. I took it just like any other match, so as not to put myself under pointless pressure. In fact, it wasn’t just like any other match, because I was coming back to the ground where I had taken my first steps in football, but there was a different feel… and the line-up has changed a lot during the transfer season.” How did it go with the crowd? “It went well, overall, apart from a few whistles at the end of the match… Whatever, it doesn’t really hit home, from here on in I’m a Lyon player.” What about last season’s Nantes-Lyon clash? “Even though I knew what Lyon’s intentions towards me were, I played the match, without any particular pressure, so as not to lose concentration on the actual fixture. We played a good game, in fact, but we ran up against Grégory Coupet.”