When Tottenham Hotspur completed a deal for Hugo Lloris in the summer it was commended as an excellent signing by the board. At just 26-years-old he also represented a sizeable investment for the future at the club and for the price they paid was an absolute bargain.
The captain of the French national team however did not have it all his own way when he first arrived at White Hart Lane. He struggled to usurp veteran goalkeeper Brad Friedel from the goal-mouth and struggled in his early appearances; appearing almost anxious to make a positive impression.
However after the creases fell out of the move and Lloris became enveloped in the atmosphere of North London he soon showed his class with top quality performances between the sticks and heading into a Europa League tie with his former club Olympique Lyonnais this week as the undisputed number one stopper.
At the time however it was an awkward situation for the player; as British press even contemplated him leaving in January in order to retain his place in the French side. Under pressure from national boss Didier Deschamps who at the time was getting under the skin of nearly every manager across the Channel it almost seemed absurdly plausible. But the gentile and polite Gallic gallantries of Lloris never wavered as he silently seethed at being second choice for the first time in his career and went about correcting that on the pitch. Indeed in a recent French radio interview he spoke of how he felt at that time:
‘’It is true that at the time I was boiling inside."
But his relationship with Brad Friedel is not affected by the early toing-and-froing of the number one jersey; in fact it seems as strong as ever as he continued:
"It's been going very well between us since the beginning... There has always been a very good working atmosphere. There were never any problems between us. Instead, it is a form of respect."
A form of respect indeed and what better mentor for a new incumbent into the Premier League is there than Brad Friedel; with his wealth of experience throughout the years of Premier League competition, a matter noted by Lloris in the English press recently:
“We talk about games, we talk about teams we play against and sometimes that’s good for me because I don’t know all the players in the Premier League, I knew about Brad before I arrived. He is a very good goalkeeper and a well-respected one.”
Training day in day out with Friedel should make Lloris more suited to the Premier League way of goalkeeping but not without maintaining many of the continental factors that made him such an attractive buy in the first place and the way he speaks of his blood boiling at being number two is a sure indicator of his drive and passion to consistently play at the highest level as the number one choice.
If he keeps it up he may prove all his early critics, of which I was admittedly one, very wrong indeed.
image: © StartAgain