November 12, 2017
Days unlike any other: Jallet
It’s the story of a non-league midfielder becoming a French international full-back. A story written through hard work and abnegation, and full of wonderful anecdotes. These stories were told to us by Christophe Jallet before heading to Clairefontaine, in preparation for World Cup 2018. From his position on the pitch to his haircut, the smiley defender didn’t avoid any subjects, and told us about the ‘days unlike any others’ which have made up his career.
Christophe, do you remember the first time you faced OGC Nice?
Yes, it was with Lorient, at the Ray. We drew right? Oh really, we lost? That’s it, I remember... we conceded a goal from Baky Koné (14 October 2006, the Gym won 3-0 thanks to a brace from Bellion and a goal from the Ivorian). We were in a bad period with Lorient, these aren’t good memories for me (laughs). The Ray, it was war when we arrived there, with a hostile atmosphere for the opposition. With Lorient, we played some very tight games to try to stay up. Even with Paris, it was tough. I loved playing in such a historic stadium, you could feel real passion around the pitch,
“Hugo has Nice and the Gym in his DNA”
You faced a certain Hugo Lloris. Do you talk about Nice when you meet up with the national side?
Every time! We talk about the club, the city, his brother (Gautier)… Hugo is incredibly attached to Nice and the Gym. It lives in him, he will never forget it. It’s in his veins, in his DNA.
Do you remember the day when you became a full-back?
It’s a long story! Even with Niort, the coach, Vincent Dufour, wanted me to play at right back. For him, I had a lot more potential in that position. I said to myself that he was crazy! In fact, he was right. Then, it was Christian Gourcuff who put me there, a bit by obligation after a series of injuries at Lorient. I quickly understood that I had more chance of breaking through there than in midfield, where I didn’t have the necessary skills to challenge the best players. Looking back, it was a good choice by my coaches.
…the day when you were first called up to the French National team?
Of course, it’s so important! The French team, that is my biggest source of pride in football. The blue shirt, the Marseillaise, etc. These are all important values for me. It was in 2012, and the announcement was made during training. I believed it, because everyone said that there was a chance that I would be picked. When I left the pitch, Douchez and Armand ran to give me the good news. They said to me: “There you go my man, you’re in!”. I had tears in my eyes. It was a great moment, one that I will never forget.
“It was too thin, I had to do something...”
… the day when you decided to shave it all off?
(Laughs) That must been in 2010 after a match with Paris in Toulouse. It had rained that evening. Looking at the images taken from above, I said to myself: “You look like a wet rat”. It was too thin, I really needed to do something... I chose Guillaume Hoarau, who not only is a great player, but was also a singer and a hairdresser. He shaved my head in the dressing rooms at the Camp des Loges. I warned him that if he shaved my head once, he would have to do so every time. It became our little routine.
What will you do the day when you decide to end your career?
As long as my legs can follow, I want to continue. Competition is a part of me. I am always giving 200% and as long as I am motivated with that same desire, I will carry on. After that, I don’t know yet. I have a plan with a family business and I think I will move closer to home (he is originally from Cognac, Editor’s note), but I don’t like to think too much about the long term. Making plans too far away has never helped me.
Some players continue the fun in a lower league side. Do you think you will do the same?
I don’t think so. Nothing is impossible, but I have experienced some great things in my career, and I hope to live through more with the Gym and the French side. The day when I am no longer at that level, it will be difficult to go back to the amateur game, because it is still very demanding. I did that at the start of my career and I know what it requires, the training, the travel etc. I take my hat off to the players, owners and volunteers in amateur football, because it also requires lots of investment, especially when you have a job on the side.
”Pundit, why not? But not to tear people to pieces”
Some people could imagine you one day in the role of a pundit...
That wouldn’t be a bad thing for me, because I am a huge fan of football. Why not? But it would never be to tear people to pieces. Even if it can be useful at times, I find that there are too many people who enjoy criticising. Especially when you know where you have come from... you need objectivity, and that’s enough.