It will be their first game of the season. Nationally. The U17s of US Thionville Lusitanos will play against Olympique Lyonnais this Sunday in Guentrange. Thomas Panunzi, 16 years old from Bertrange and trained in Thionville since childhood, will lead the team. Grégory Adler, the coach, warned: “Tom is one of my basic men. You will see, you will not be disappointed. »
A tall young man of 1.82 m comes forward: a wise captain. Calm, poised, determined. A handsome boy with a raven-colored mane who cannot deny his Italian origins. He has been 16 since July, attends sport-studies at the Schuman high school in Metz and will enter 1st grade at the start of the school year in September. To become a sports physiotherapist. “I started at Bertrange as a center forward to imitate my big brother Hugo then, at Thionville FC, I moved to the middle. Today, I play in central defense. For two seasons. In passing, Thomas salutes his coaches: Maurice D’Ametto at Thionville FC, Stéphane Pasqualetto at Charlemagne College, Grégory Adler who helped him progress and brought the team to the highest French level. “We went up to everyone’s surprise. We were playing hold. It’s our work that allowed us to hold Nancy twice and beat Troyes twice. It is our work that will carry us forward again this year despite the presence of eight professional training centers and despite the three relegations. Playing in National is a reward and perhaps a springboard. »
OL, a reward
Tom has pace and stature, fluid technique and a sense of anticipation. He is the pillar of the defense, the basic man, the conductor of the three centrals. “I have the depth to manage. I have progress to make in placement as well as in heading. » Sunday, in the locker room, before meeting a club which for decades has been drawing internationals from Di Nallo and Chiesa via Benzema, Fékir and tomorrow, perhaps, Gusto or Lukeba, he will say to his people: « This match for us, it’s a bonus, a gift. Let’s have confidence and look them in the eye because our preparation gives us confidence. So let’s enjoy the moment. Well in his sneakers, well in his time, Tom loves football and sport above all else. Iniesta and Messi for style, Maldini and Ramos for job culture. The speed of Formula 1, the punch of the series fast and furious or of Creed in the cinema, the rhythm and the messages of rap, of the PNL group, of Ninho or of JuL. Thomas likes when it’s muscular. Lyon will not disappoint him, that’s for sure. « We’re going to play Mission impossible, » he concludes with a wink. Don’t miss the event, this Sunday at 3 p.m. (free entry)! Because it is. And a real one.