Nature

Why Hugo Lloris is so important to Tottenham and remains crucial

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n the days following Tottenham’s remarkable Champions League semi-final win over Ajax, Harry Kane emerged as the inspiration behind his comeback.

According to Kieran Trippier, Kane, who was injured on the night, burst into the away locker room at half-time “going crazy” and helped rouse his teammates to a famous win.

But Mauricio Pochettino then offered a different version of events, insisting it was another player who had the last laugh as the team walked away, trailing 3-0 on aggregate.

Michel Vorm, who was there in Amsterdam, remembers it as well as his manager at the time.

“We were done. That was the general feeling,” Vorm said. “And then Hugo Lloris gets up. I don’t remember his exact words but he leaves you thinking, ‘Don’t give up’. It gives you hope.

Influential captain Hugo Lloris is in his 10th year at Tottenham

/ Getty Images

Pochettino’s desire to acknowledge Lloris’ role in the Amsterdam miracle was linked to a feeling, which still lingers at Spurs, that the Frenchman doesn’t always get the credit he deserves, as a player and captain. .

Lloris has not been immune to high-profile mistakes during his time at Spurs and he was at fault for both goals in last weekend’s 2-0 home loss to Wolves. But he was one of the most consistent keepers in the Premier League during his decade in England.

His new two-year contract will take him to 12 years at the club and there is little news to learn about Lloris the goalkeeper. But leader Lloris remains more of a mystery, despite having captained France for the 2018 World Cup, and Kane is still sometimes expected to wear the armband for club as well as country.

Almost everyone who has played or worked with Lloris agrees that he is a great captain, but without conforming to stereotypes.

“When people think of a captain, they think of wearing the armband, shouting and putting people in their place. But with Hugo, it’s a different type of captain,” said former teammate Toby Alderweireld.

“He didn’t say much, but when he said something, people listened. It’s much louder than shouting.

Intelligent, thoughtful and serious to the point of severity, Lloris chooses his words carefully. He can be fierce and unafraid to call out his team-mates, best demonstrated after Spurs’ 3-0 loss to Dinamo Zagreb last season, when he called their performance a ‘shame’, or when his heated confrontation with Heung-min. Son during a game against Everton in July 2020.

He can also be encouraging, self-critical and even funny, but he is rarely emotional.

“He is always clear and he always thinks before he speaks. What he says makes sense,” said Vorm, Lloris’ longtime understudy and briefly coach. “Sometimes he was more aggressive, sometimes more calm. But he always finds the balance.

Beneath a placid exterior, Lloris is an imposing figure. A Spurs staff member said he would not be surprised to learn he got into politics after football, such is his seriousness.

Lloris steered France to glory at the 2018 World Cup in Russia

/ AFP via Getty Images

“He’s humble but his personality is huge,” said Pochettino’s assistant Jesus Perez. “From a distance, it looks like maybe he’s not a big guy. But when you’re next to him [it’s different].”

Perez says Pochettino’s decision to appoint Lloris as permanent captain at the start of the 2015-16 season was ‘common sense’ and he quickly became the bridge between the manager and his young side, often relaying messages from the office from Pochettino to the locker room. He grew in influence to the point where Pochettino effectively considered him part of his team.

“You would see him in Mauricio’s office almost every day,” Perez said. “I’m not saying he sacrificed his family, but he was spending time with us when he could be home. It gives you the sense of the man, the sense of the captain.

When Lloris was arrested for drunk driving in 2018 and later charged, there were boardroom-level conversations about him having the armband removed, but sources say Pochettino didn’t. never considered that as an option.

Now, under Antonio Conte, Spurs have a young squad again and Lloris, the only over 30, takes his role as an older statesman seriously. He is not part of any clique, moving from one group to another within the team and making a special effort to assimilate new recruits.

During Cristian Romero’s first weeks at the club, Lloris drove him to training every day. “He is a reference for the team and for the club,” said Conte.

Mauricio Pochettino did indeed consider Lloris part of his Tottenham squad

/ Getty Images

Lloris’ seriousness at work is such that some staff still haven’t seen his lighter side, but Vorm insists he can let his hair down.

“When he was hosting a barbecue or we were playing poker, he was always involved,” Vorm said. “He’s not one to talk a lot, even when we’re playing poker, but he’s always there. He would organize things. He’s not a partier but he tried to make sure that when we needed him, a dinner or a night out, he was always open.

This season Lloris has overtaken Darren Anderton as the club’s Premier League appearance record holder and, for his colleagues, the best example of his mentality is his longevity for a Spurs side which have seen their ups and downs since joining the club. he signed from Lyon in 2012.

“To play with the consistency of Hugo, without playing for a top club, is remarkable,” said Perez. “He’s one of the greatest goalkeepers. It’s so difficult to be at his level for so long. Hugo was one of the most important factors, at least for us, to be at the level where we were.

Lloris signed a two-year contract extension at Spurs in January, keeping him in place until 2024

/ Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

Alderweireld added: “These are the big moments. For example, the [Manchester] City match in the Champions League, [against Sergio] Aguero’s penalty. That’s something a true captain does: help the team when they need it.

“People underestimate him but a captain is always there for the club. You can shout all you want, throw your arms around however you want, but if you don’t play it’s not the same. He still performs, he’s still there for the club, for 10 years.

If Spurs are to end their long wait for a trophy, they will need the likes of Lloris – and there is surely no one at the club who deserves more silverware than the 35-year-old.

“He was the captain of France who won the f*****g World Cup,” Vorm said. “But his ultimate dream is to win something with Tottenham. It also gives him extra energy towards the group, towards himself to push more.


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