Foot 24hfootnews: during the season, the Blues often say that they do not think about the list. But is this really the case?
Bafetimbi Gomis: it’s a goal. The fact of thinking about the selection and doing everything possible to claim to be selected, that means that it is always a common thread in our head. We have a performance duty which allows us to be able to claim to be in selection. So yes we think about it. When you accumulate good performances, you know that you are becoming selectable. But it is by accumulating everything over the season, it cannot be played out in a month. We think about it. We have benchmarks. As a striker, when you have a good start to the season, that at mid-season you are between ten and fifteen goals in the league and that at the end you have passed the 20-goal mark, you know that you are likely to go for selection. It was my personal feeling as a striker.
Jean-Alain Boumsong: those who don’t think about it are those who are sure to be there or those who are sure not to be there. Everything else thinks about it of course. You cannot be a high level athlete, an international footballer and, in a season at the end of which there will be a great competition, not think about it. We make our calendar of the year according to this great competition which, normally, is the apotheosis of the season. Obviously, it’s in the head. In any case, concerning me, it was always like that every time we entered a period of international competition. Club choices are also made according to the goals of the club and the national team.
FM: in what state of mind are we a few days before the list, then the big day?
Bafetimbi Gomis: a few days before the selection, I was always calm. I think we are privileged and it is of course an honor to play for France. Afterwards if we are not there, we say to ourselves that it is reserved for the twenty best players (of fields). And sometimes, when you’re among the top twenty players, there’s the notion of a group. Sometimes you can’t get into a group like that, because it’s already done. There are also tactical choices and different profiles. We cannot interfere with that. But that was the case for me when I was in Galatasaray (2017-18) or Marseille (2016-17). I had passed the twenty goal mark and I think a striker who scores twenty goals must be international. The coach made other choices and I took comfort in the great season I had. I had gone on vacation calmly and serenely, telling myself that I had done the right thing during the season. I left with a taste for a job well done.
Jean-Alain Boumsong: it depends on his place in the group. If we are a regular, that we have always been called, that we are a holder, that we play, and that there is no incident before the list, of course we know that we are going be there. The current year, when we have not been called regularly on the list, we know that we are not sure to be there. We are relatively stressed and anxious as this date approaches, because we know that it is an important date. We start to prepare and if we are there, it’s great we are happy. If we are not there, we are already starting to prepare to book our holidays to forget (smile).
FM: do you have in mind a striking anecdote on this subject?
Bafetimbi Gomis: no, I don’t have one in particular. But it is true that I was surprised when I was selected for the first time. I had been told. There must have been 22 or 23 players. Raymond Domenech had said there would be one more. It was me. I had a good season and I had a double (during his first selection). Not to mention the fact that Saint-Etienne is returning to the European Cup. I have another (anecdote). I was young and naive. At the time, at ASSE, which vegetated and was promoted to the elite, I had not been trained with players who were prepared for the high level. The day he must give the final list of players selected to go to the Euro (2008), I go to the infirmary. I was in Tignes and I arrive in the physiotherapy room. There, I have the elders, Patrick Vieira and Lilian Thuram who tell me: “what are you doing here?”. I tell them that I was in pain and they tell me: “no, you are not saying that you are in pain”. Because there was the list and it shouldn’t interfere with the coach’s choices. I had found this to be very good advice from my elders. I then made the Euro. Unfortunately, it was not a good Euro for France. We had suffered, but I had learned from contact with very great players.
Jean-Alain Boumsong: I have no particular anecdotes. It must be said that the lists to which I was called were specific. For the Confederations Cup, he had announced it. For Euro 2004, he had made a larger group. In 2006, I had been called all the time. But I had a little bit of apprehension before the roster, because I was a substitute and I no longer played for Newcastle. In 2008, it was the episode of the helicopter in Tignes, which was not good. I had that of 2010 which was announced in the newspaper and I was not called (…) Thinking about it, I have an anecdote in mind. I remember that I was very happy to be called up for Euro 2004, because it was played between Philippe Mexès and me. Jacques Santini calls me into his office. There was all his staff, including Pierre Mankowski. The coach approaches a little serious, he smiles and he says to me: “Boom, how are you?”. I answer yes. He said to me: “relax, we are very happy with your behavior, the work done and we will keep it simple; you are on the list”. It was a very important moment. He asked me if I was happy. I replied: “of course I’m happy”. I was very happy.
FM: before the big meetings, we think a lot before the list. How did you occupy your mind?
Bafetimbi Gomis: I didn’t worry about it. I worry more when I’m in a club because it’s different. The France team is the icing on the cake. If you deserve it, you go. It is also fate. There are players who have great careers and, unfortunately, they do not have the chance to taste the joys of defending the colors of a country. For my part, I always left that in the hands of the good god. I tell myself that if I am called it is that I deserve it, if I am not it is that I must work more. This is how I worked to stay positive no matter what and not to be disappointed. With the disappointment, it can play on your performances in club.
Jean-Alain Boumsong: you have to try to do what you usually do. Of course, it’s in the head. But if we only think about that, we don’t do anything anymore. We will be paralyzed by the fear of not being there. You have to behave normally. In his head, we have to tell ourselves that if this is not the case, it will not be the end of the world. It will be hard and sad, it will be necessary to count on those close to him. I can say that May 11, 2010 was a difficult date because I was not called. In addition, it was the day before the game, just before a meal. The coach shifts the meal so that everyone can go and watch the TV news. I stay all alone in the room. I’m not going, because I don’t really feel the stuff this time around. And then I hear screams. Anthony Réveillère, who was new at the time, was called. Let’s say we have to say to ourselves that, if we are called, it’s great we are happy. If we are not called, we will be sad, but life goes on.
FM: it is always a strong moment as a footballer and as a man. I imagine we want to share this with our family and loved ones.
Bafetimbi Gomis: of course. It is success. It is a moment to live with his family, his parents, his agent, his relatives. Often times, stories like these are thanks to the work of several people. There are people who work in the shadows. The family encourages us and supports us. It is also the job of an agent who believes in it. Sometimes players have experienced quite serious injuries and it is true that in football as in life, nothing is set in stone. When you arrive at this kind of performance and you are selected, it is the apotheosis. It is total fulfillment.
Jean-Alain Boumsong: yes, of course you have to be with your family. The advice that I will give to all these footballers who are active, who are waiting for this list, is that it remains football. There are more important things. Of course, disappointment happens, because we are competitors, we want to be there. If not, there will always be a good behind this non-selection. Really that’s what to say to yourself. I started to tell myself even more at the end of the 2006 World Cup where I had made the last 8 qualifying matches as a starter, and I had not played a minute. On the other hand, the fact of having participated in a World Cup as a substitute on the bench and reaching the final, it allowed me to better observe and understand the management of a group. As a coach today, even as a consultant, I rely a lot on this experience to give my opinion. If I had been the holder, I think I would not have had the hindsight and analytical skills that I had during this World Cup. Everything happens for a reason. If they’re called, great. You have to go there and wet the jersey. Be careful, because it happens in several stages. We are called we are happy, then there will even be those who are called surprises who can show their frustration when they stop playing. You have to take it upon yourself and go there, telling yourself that it is the team that has first priority.