EXCLUSIVE - Hognon on Lloris: He has intelligence, education and talent, Hugo has it all
Exclusive by Alessandro Schiavone
Vincent Hognon revealed that he wasn’t surprised to see his former teammate Hugo Lloris stake a claim on the grandest stage in football after the pair shared the same dressing room at French club OGC Nice 14 year ago.
Hognon and Lloris were at opposite stages of their respective careers when they crossed paths in the French Riviera in 2007.
The former defender was in the twilight of his career when he put pen to paper on a two-year deal with The Eaglets after quitting Saint-Etienne in the summer of 2007 at the age of 33. Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur’s iconic goalkeeper had just burst onto the scene as a budding 20-year old a year before, and was itching to make a name for himself in France and beyond.
But such was his talent and the instant impact he made that comparisons with Les Bleus and Manchester United legend Fabien Barthez were already being made in France. Unfazed by expectations, Lloris embraced the pressure to become one of the world’s best goalkeepers in the following decade courtesy of the shifts he has put in on the training ground and great personality off the pitch.
Already a local hero when Hognon teamed up with him a decade-and-a-half ago, Lloris went on to skipper France to World Cup glory in 2018 and is only 18 games away from beating Lilian Thuram’s record of 142 caps to become his country’s all-time most record appearance holder.
Hognon said: “He was very young. Our second-choice keeper Lionel Letizi was also an amazing goalkeeper and was perfect in the way he helped him. Hugo is a remarkable guy who has had a fantastic career.
“And off the pitch he has been irreproachable, be it his mentality, attitude and statements in the press. He was already like that back then and I am not surprised by the career he has had. Intelligence, education and talent, Hugo has it all.
“I am not surprised by the career he has had and that he played for the French national team. That he would last so long, we never know what can happen during a career but he is so intelligent. And I deem myself lucky to have had the chance to play with him. I was one of the older guys back then but happy to be surrounded by young players like that.”
Nearly 10years after joining from Olympique Lyon, Lloris may have yet to lift a trophy in North London but for Hognon his legacy will live on forever as he served both his country and clubs with distinction.
When asked whether Lloris was nature or nurture, Hognon replied: “He was a precocious talent but like all the top-level goalkeepers, they are big grafters. Hugo was a very hard-working lad and his pace stood out. He had already progressed enormously after playing only a couple of games at Nice.”