After the departure of Hugo Lloris, he became OL's number two 'keeper behind Rémy Vercoutre... he made his senior debut against nice in the Coupe de la Ligue... on Thursday he could play his first European match... meet Anthony Lopes...
If you look back just a short time, the sporting life and future of OL 'keeper Anthony Lopes didn't seem so straightforward. But the youngster still showed a lot of character and his disappointments were written clearly on his face. "Antho" had a burning desire to get back on track, but he was always humble. "I've made progress... I've matured in the last two years... My life off the pitch has clmed me a lot and helped me to improve. I have a little one-year-old girl. Before, I was pretty agitated - without being aggressive - and I said things without thinking first..."
Before, he was a Portuguese youth international sitting fourth in the pecking order of OL 'keepers. But the youngster was already pulling out some miraculous performances outside of the naitonal team. "He was the key in several matches in the finals phase of the CFA with the reserves side," remembered a delighted Robert Valette.
His future was uncertain, but he was included in the pre-season training camp in Austria last season, and that's where Anthony began his rise. He became OL's number three 'keeper and played well - very well - in a pre-season friendly. "I've been with the senior squad for 18 months now. I've made progress by working with Joël Bats and by watching the other 'keepers. 'Jo' is like a dad, and he's also the best goalkeeping coach in France, possibly in the world. You just have to look at the great work he did with Greg and Hugo… I'm working as hard as I need to in order to be the best I can be." Injuries? "I haven't spared in terms of injuries, and both times they have been pretty serious (two fractured fibulas). Injuries like this make you take a step back and look at things differently, and this can help you to make progress. When you play again and you find yourself in the same situation in which you got injured, ypou just go for it..." Did he have doubts about his future at OL? "I never thought about leaving. I heard that Hugo was in contact with Tottenham, and everything accelerated once his transfer went through."
Yes, I'm a little bit crazy. But you need to have a bit of madness to play in this position.
"A lot has changed. I'm always working with the senior squad... Beforehand, I was training with the squad but I watched the matches from the stands or on TV... But now I'm on the bench, and I'm right into the whole thing, getting behind the team. Indirectly, I feel like I'm playing... But I need to stay on my toes, because I can be called on to take the field at any time... Yes, it's very exciting to play... My role is also to help get Rémy in the best possible frame of mind during the warm-up."
His hard work was rewarded when he had the chance to play against Nice in the Coupe de la Ligue. "We had a catastrophic start to the match. I conceded three goals without even touching the ball. But I needed to keep my head up because there was the rest of the match to play. Things went better in the second half. What does this match mean to me? It was the beginning of something big. I managed to stay myself. I was on top of the world when I knew I was going to start... It will always be a pleasure to be called upon..." Against Kyriat Shmona? "We'll see whether I play or not. But I'm hoping to make my European debut."
'Carlos' Anthony has matured in his everyday life, and also slimmed down. "I used to have big cheeks, that's why Bruno Génésio nicknamed me Carlos..." Isn't he a bit mad when he plays? "Yes, I'm a little bit crazy. But you need to have a bit of madness to play in this position. And I think actually I could have been a bit crazier in certain situations when I think back on them. Off the pitch, I don't explode with emotion, but I'm not shy either. I know how to have fun... but on the pitch, I'm very different. My aggression triples, quadruples..."
And to finish on a collective note. "With the squad we have, OL can achieve anything this season. It's just a question of how we play our cards."
A word from Gilles Rousset (Anthony's reserve team coach)
"He's a very promising player. He has potential. He has a lot of qualities, notably his explosiveness. He's a competitor, a contender; he doesn't give up and he's enthusiastic. He's worked very hard and come a long way. His never-say-die attitude has helped him to make progress. He's a very hard worker. His injuries have shown that he has a lot of character. In Nice, he showed that he was up to the task despite the tough situation he found himself in."