The Big Interview - William Gallas
19 June 2016|Tottenham Hotspur
France legend? Check. There when Hugo Lloris broke into the national squad? Check. A key man in our run to the quarter-finals of the Champions League? Check. With Euro 2016 in full swing, Hugo now captaining France and the club ready to return to the Champions League stage, what better time to talk to William Gallas?
Capped 84 times by France and a World Cup finalist in 2006 who counts the likes Zinedine Zidane, Lilian Thuram and Marcel Desailly as former team-mates, William is naturally keeping close tabs on how Les Bleus progress hosting Euro 2016.
With his former national and Spurs team-mate Hugo Lloris captaining the team, it’s a case of so far, so good for the hosts with late goals clinching two wins out of two against Romania and Albania and securing a place in the knockout phase with a game to go.
Now 38 and having retired at the end of the 2013-14 season, William was making his name in La Liga when France last hosted and famously won a major tournament, the 1998 World Cup and followed up by winning Euro 2000.
Below: William in training at Spurs - November, 2011
So what did William think of France’s efforts so far?
Speaking to us exclusively from France last week – just after France had beaten Albania to book a place in the last 16 – William spoke about the tournament so far, Hugo, Spurs, the Champions League and what he’s up to now…
How does is feel to have a major tournament back in France?
William: “It’s good to have the Euros in France and the French people are very excited. At the same time, we’ve seen some things in the first week we didn’t want to see away from the matches, that is not football and not a good image for football. That’s been the only disappointment for me.”
In terms of the football, France are favourites, what do you think of their chances?
William: “France are favourites because we hold the tournament in France but there are strong teams here like Germany, Italy, Belgium and Croatia. England as well, they can be in the same park. I’m not sure who is the favourite.”
Hugo Lloris is a man you know well. What are your thoughts on him?
William: “Hugo is an amazing goalkeeper whether he plays for Tottenham or France. At Spurs, I know he had a great, great season and it’s the same with the national team as well. The French people are proud of him, he’s a humble guy and people respect that. I’m happy to see him at this stage of his career.”
What do you remember about him coming to Spurs? You were here at the time…
William: “Hugo has such a strong mentality, and that is so important for goalkeepers. When he arrived at Tottenham, a lot of people were unsure. The Premier League is a different way for goalkeepers - free-kicks, corners, you have to be so strong but he’s a crazy goalkeeper! We all feel secure when he’s behind us.”
Below: William shakes hands with Hugo before his Premier League debut for us - October, 2012
What did you think about our performances last season?
William: “I was very impressed. The team had the opportunity to win the title and okay, that didn’t happen in the end but the most important thing is the opportunity to play in the Champions League next season. We had that opportunity when I was at the club and everyone loved it. You want to compete against the best teams in Europe.”
On Champions League, 2010-11
What do you remember about our run to the quarter-finals of the Champions League?
William: “We were strong and we had nothing to lose, we hadn’t played in the Champions League so we just played freely, we were happy to be in there. Gareth Bale came through in that competition and it was a great time. We played Inter Milan, AC Milan, Real Madrid and these are great memories.”
You kept two clean sheets as we beat AC Milan…
William: “I remember it well! It wasn’t easy! We were strong. It wasn’t just Michael Dawson and me, it was the whole team. We compact and fought for each other.”
Below: A huge moment as William clears off the line in the second leg against AC Milan - March 9, 2011
You retired after a spell at Perth Glory in Australia in 2014, what are you up to now?
William: “I’ve done a bit of TV work in Malaysia and enjoyed that. It’s like a new job, you have to learn.”