Hugo Lloris interview below courtesy of Tottenham Hotspur:
So it seems everything is going well for you at Spurs now?
HL: Everything has been going well since the beginning! I am discovering a new club, a new championship. I needed some time to adapt, but now I am getting more game time and that was what I was looking for when I signed for Spurs. Of course I signed to play and then the manager made his decision but the most important thing for me was to sign for Tottenham, to begin to get to know my team mates, the people in the club, the fans. It is different watching a game on TV and then being out on the pitch because even though the Premier League gets a lot of media coverage in France and we are fortunate enough to get to see all of the matches, it is still different when you are on the pitch.
So English football is different?
HL: Yes it has different characteristics, it is played at a higher intensity, it is faster, there are more personal duels on the pitch, lots more space and some very good teams and players and anything can happen during the matches. You certainly can’t take any result for granted. It is never easy to play away, the teams are always highly motivated, they have a great mental approach and they always want to pull out all of the stops against the big teams. But that is what is so great about football.
Is it more difficult for a goalkeeper in England with so many crosses coming in?
HL: Well, you know, football is universal, it is always the same sport even though football in England does have its own characteristics and it is true that there are lots of crosses and high balls. But today more and more English teams like to keep the ball on the ground, like Swansea for example and so football is changing in England as well. But of course there are certain characteristics as I have said, such as a lot of high balls, personal duels on the pitch, fighting spirit which are all part of English football.
Was it initially difficult to fit into a new environment?
HL: Not really, as I have already said, the most important thing is to get to know your team mates. I arrived at Spurs quite late, right at the end of the transfer window, and so did not have a lot of time to adapt, I had to get to know my team mates very quickly, because even though I didn’t play in the Premier League straight away I did play in the Europa League and so had to get to know my team mates straight away and training with them every day, getting used to the language, all of that helped as well. So I tried to fit in as quickly as possible, because it is important to do so.
Can you explain what happened with the transfer because you came in at the end of the window and then you didn’t really arrive in London straight away because there was the international break.
HL: Well I guess what was a bit unusual was that I signed at the very last minute and then my first training session came two weeks later because we had a couple of international matches. But that can happen in a footballer’s career. We don’t control everything which is why it is so important to be focussed, to take a step back sometimes and to be focused on what is going on around you. I think that when you come into a new club you have to buy into a collective plan, you have to have a collective approach, think about the team even though your own personal position is important. When I got here it was my ambition to play because I have a certain standing in France and it was a great opportunity for me to come and play in the Premier League. But I had to be patient and had to embrace this collective approach because the club and its fans owe it to themselves to be in the Champions League next year.
Did you know Brad Friedel before coming here?
HL: Of course, people watch the Premier League everywhere and we know the teams and particularly since I am a keeper myself.
You are often referred to as a “keeper-sweeper”. Has that always been your style of play?
HL: Yes, it is important to adapt to the English game but by the same token I have to make the most of my own abilities as a keeper. I don’t like to wait for the game to come to me, to have it imposed on me. So I like to attack the ball, to play quite high up the pitch and to close the attacking players down where possible, a goalkeeper has a lot of characteristics and there are lots of differences amongst goalkeepers but the important thing is to be effective in what you do, to perform well and to perform consistently at a high level and then everyone has their own qualities and you have to respect them.
Do you study other keepers or do you study your own game in terms of statistics etc?
HL: I am not really one for statistics because I am an instinctive player. At the end of a game, I have enough experience now to know what I did well and perhaps what I did poorly and even what needs to be corrected in the future. I don’t need to watch a video to tell me that. I have this ability to know what I have done well or not so well and if I am not sure about something then I talk to the goalkeeping coach because that is what he is there for, to help us to improve. I can draw upon my past experiences in France, I have also played quite a few matches in the national team as well but I am still young for a keeper, I am not yet 26 and so I have a lot to learn, a lot to prove and I think that here in England everything is in place to help me to develop further. So I have a lot to learn, a lot to discover but it is important that I stay myself, continue to be ambitious and help the team to win.
Where were you living when you first arrived in England?
HL: I was in a hotel for a month but then I was able to find a house and so could bring my family over. It is important for a player to have his family around him because it helps to give you balance in life. So when we talk about adapting to a new country then having your family with you is part of this. It isn’t great spending a month in a hotel but you put up with it. Then the people who work here at the club helped me to find a house and I am very grateful to them for that.
The first few weeks must have been very difficult because you were in a different country, living in a hotel, you weren’t playing in the Premier League. It must have been difficult to stay focussed and to keep a clear head?
HL: You need good mental strength when you are involved in a sport at a high level and these are situations you have to cope with. You have to keep positive, it is true that I didn’t play in the Premier League but I was playing in the Europa League and so I had to focus on that and concentrate on doing my job. I had to be patient but I wanted to play, to claim the goalkeeping position as mine. It is part of an experience, it makes you stronger, it was something new for me. The important thing was to come out the other side feeling stronger.
What do you think of this team and the players like Bale and Defoe?
We have a young team with a lot of potential. We have some great players. I watched the team last year playing some of the best football in England and this year we have done some good things but we have to continue and to grow because the club wants to establish itself at the highest level, playing on a regular basis in the Champions League and the players have to be aware of this. We have to take the club to the next level and that is certainly what attracted me to Tottenham. I am here because Tottenham is a top club which wants to establish itself on the European stage and to win trophies here in England. This will take several years but we need to start achieving our targets this season and we have some very good players but the most important thing for a team is to have a good cohesive group of players. We are doing well at the moment, we have qualified for the next round in the Europa League, we are in a pretty good position in the league.
It was reported that you lost your mother to cancer. It must be difficult being abroad far from your family and father?
That’s right she passed away more than four years ago. Unfortunately these things happen. I think that when you have experienced this sort of difficult situation then it is easier to take a step back and to put things in the right context. Such as what happened to me when I first arrived here at Tottenham because I feel that there are more important things in life such as one’s family. Unfortunately these things are part of the trials of life and are beyond our control. Family is very important for me and we try to see each other when we can. I go to Nice or they come to London but that is life. I think that they are proud of seeing what I have managed to achieved. But it is all part life, each player has his own story. Things are going well for me, I am happy in my life, both as a professional footballer and in my private life.