Lloris prepares for another final in year of highs and lows
Enfield (United Kingdom) (AFP)
Hugo Lloris has had his share of setbacks over the past 12 months, but he can complete a remarkable year in triumph if he leads Tottenham to glory in the Champions League final in Madrid on Saturday.
Last July, Lloris captained France to the World Cup, but the moment the celebration was preceded, typically for the goalkeeper, by mishap.
With France three goals ahead in the final, Lloris tried to dribble past Mario Mandzukic, failed and gave Croatia a consolation goal.
"During a season one knows there are always highs and lows, one just has to try and be as consistent as possible and be ready to be at your best for the most important moments of the season for the club," the 32-year-old Frenchman told AFP.
As the English season quickly followed the World Cup, Lloris was arrested for drink driving in London in August and within days suffered an injury that Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino put down to the stress of the brush with the law.
After Lloris returned to the team, he made a string of errors leading to speculation over his future. His misjudgements against Barcelona and PSV Eindhoven in the group stage pushed Tottenham to the edge of Champions League elimination.
At the end of March a fumble in the dying seconds which gifted Liverpool the 2-1 victory that ended Tottenham's fading Premier League challenge forced Pochettino to defend his 'keeper.
"I don't search to be understood by those outside, the most important is to be understood inside the club," said Lloris, who joined Spurs seven years ago from Lyon.
"It is important to enjoy the confidence of the manager, the staff and my team-mates and it was the case this season."
Liverpool fans will be hoping they benefit from a goalkeeping error this year with memories painfully fresh of the blunders by the Reds' stopper Loris Karius in last year's loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League final.
Yet there have been highs for Lloris too.
He repeatedly saved Tottenham as they teetered on the edge in the Champions League, making remarkable saves in both legs of the semi-finals before Spurs rallied from three goals down to beat Ajax.
"We are where we are as we have given a bit extra for the team to make the results be in our favour.
"It is important to have the same attitude and character for the final."
He says Spurs have been on a high since their comeback against Ajax as they prepare for the final against a side that finished 26 points clear of them in the Premier League and swept aside Barcelona in a stunning semi-final second leg.
- 'Energy, positivity, confidence' -
"It has given us a lot of energy, positivity and confidence for the final, but, there again, it is equally the case for Liverpool after beating Barcelona," he said.
"We have just got to remain focused and be best prepared in our approach to the final. (We want) to walk off the pitch at the end without the slightest regret and knowing that we have given our all."
Should the final go to penalties, Lloris could come into his own as he has saved three in four months. The most recent was from Sergio Aguero in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final with Manchester City.
"One has to prepare but after that it is difficult to place yourself in such circumstances, with the pressure and the adrenaline," he said.
"It is a particular exercise, you can be ready mentally and you can have a little luck and a little bit of success."
Lloris comes from an affluent background. His father is a banker and his late mother was a lawyer. Yet he is a tough character who turned out for his then club Nice just two days after his mother's death in 2008.
He says his experience in winning the World Cup, and losing in the finals of the Euros two years earlier, can, to some extent, help prepare his team-mates for the final.
"They are two different contexts, club and country," he said.
"With your national side you are only with them for a short period, with your club you are together every day and work together for months on end.
"There again the Champions League is a major trophy which links it to a World Cup and a Euro and that I believe is what we work for every day of our career to win silverware.
"The story will be tremendous for Tottenham if we win on Saturday."
? 2019 AFP