- France cruised through group stages with three wins and 14 goals scored
- Captain Claudio Gomes plays a key role on and off the pitch
- The skipper provides a run-down of his team-mates and their characteristics
Of course, it would be easy for us to wax lyrical about the quality on display for France in their first three FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 matches, where they notched up three wins and scored 14 goals. We could talk about the tournament’s leading scorer and best passer, both of them playing for France. But instead, we’ve decided to delve a little deeper into the make-up of the team.
What are Les Bleuets like when they shed the mantle of favourites for the tournament, and go back to simply being a bunch of 17-year-olds who are spending a few weeks together at a location that is thousands of miles from home?
Captain Claudio Gomes, who plays a key role both on the pitch as a midfielder, and off it in the day-to-day life of the group, is the ideal person to give us this kind of insight. In the run-up to their Round of 16 match against Spain, he lifted the lid on what goes on inside the French squad.
Who’s the most talented player on the ball?
There’s a few of them in the team who are really skilful, but I’d say that Lenny Pintor is the best. He can do anything with the ball: accelerate, dribble, anything. What impresses me is when he cuts back inside. He’s like Ousmane Dembele – he’s a killer!
Who’s the quickest?
Willem Geubbels is like greased lightning. He’s really impressive. The slowest…? I’d be one of them! We don’t have speed tests, but I reckon it’d be me.
Who’s the warrior who puts everything on the line in every tackle?
Maxence Caqueret. He is the perfect example of someone with all the willpower in the world and who never gives up. He’s not the biggest, he’s not the strongest, but he’s the gutsiest one out on the pitch. It’s great to play alongside him in midfield.
Who’s the intellectual of the team?
Yacine Adli. In the group we call him “le Président”. He’s articulate and very knowledgeable.
Who’s the team DJ?
There’s a few of them, but I’d say Yacine again, because he can find music for everyone, with different styles for the coaching staff and the players. At the moment, he plays Billie Jean a lot by Michael Jackson.
Who’s the best dancer?
There’s two of them, William Bianda and Oumar Solet. They’re the best by far.
Who’s the funniest?
Oumar Solet, no question! He laughs all the time and he makes everyone else laugh all the time. Even when he does the odd thing to annoy us, you can’t help but laugh.
Who’s the quietest?
Mathis Picouleau. He’s someone who doesn’t say very much but he’s open to everyone. And when you do go and talk to him, you can talk about anything and that’s really nice.
Who’s the best at FIFA?
Almost everyone in the group plays but there’s a definite top three. Batista Mendy, Andy Pelmard and me. And of that trio, I have to admit that Andy’s the best.
Who’s the most active on social media?
We are the social media generation, so everyone’s involved to a certain extent. The one who spends the most time on it is Wilson Isidor. But when you play for France it’s a restricted circle, and he knows that there are certain things that need to remain private.
Who’s always late?
Willem Geubbels! All the time! He always thinks he’s got enough time. If we’re meeting at 2, he’ll leave his room at 1.59 or even two o’clock. He’s the quickest on the pitch but he’s always the one who’s late.
And finally, who would you like to lift the trophy with you if France won the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017?
Everyone. All 21 plus the coaching staff. Every single one of them!