Football – French Cup (16th final). Before Thaon

Thaon (N3) – Nantes (Ligue 1)

Sunday January 22 (6:30 p.m.) in Epinal

There was January 22, 2011 with Raon-l’Etape, on the lawn of the Canaries, at La Beaujoire. A 2-1 defeat and a goal from… Romain Chouleur. There was January 22, 2013, with Epinal. A qualification on penalties and the most beautiful epic of his playing career. There will be January 22… 2023 still against Nantes, with Thaon and the coach’s cap. “The first two confrontations remain beautiful memories, I hope that the third will be”, confides the interested party who opens his souvenir album to us.

Nantes and Romain Chouleur, it’s a great story, isn’t it?

“(Laughs). For the record, last season, we were invited to the final of the Coupe de France, Nantes-Nice. We had decided to get into the mood. We supported Nantes and I wore at the Stade de France my jersey recovered in 2011 with Raon. »

It is always difficult to rank emotions, but what if we asked you your best moment against Nantes?

“Compared to everything around this first match against Nantes with Raon-l’Etape, I would put this one in mind. It’s my fondest memory. We had made the trip and the president had made a gesture to help our families to go to Nantes. Suddenly my parents, my brothers, and about fifteen friends from Dombasle were in the small stand of Beaujoire. When I scored it was on their side, I went to commune with them. I have a wonderful photo where I celebrate my goal with them. It’s priceless and it will remain a very strong moment for life. And then score at La Beaujoire as well…”

This goal, you must remember it like it was yesterday?

 » Yes. Pass from Maxime Ras in depth, I let the ball pass a little bit so that it comes back to my left foot. I put a flat foot flush with the post. The goalkeeper was Ndy Assembé (Guy Roland Ndy Assembé, Franco-Cameroonian goalkeeper who notably worked for Nantes, Valenciennes, ASNL, Cameroonian international 16 times, participation in the CAN and the 2010 World Cup). It’s a shame because I couldn’t get the images back. I would have liked to revise my goal. Even if Nantes was stronger that day, we believed it. And me, I still had a 2-2 ball late in the game. My shot from 20 meters passes close to the post. »

What memory did you leave of the confrontation with Epinal at La Colombière two years later?

“It’s a wonderful memory too, obviously. With more qualifications. But this match is part of a larger epic. With especially this match of Lyon which remains in all the heads. With also this round of 16 in Lens where we had discovered the atmosphere of the Bollaert stadium. »

You shared this special moment with Théo Gazagnes and Yohan Dufour at the time, who are your players today…

« We didn’t discuss it. Theo must have mentioned that he had missed his shot on goal, but nothing more. These are not memories that are often evoked. Okay, we have a meal together, maybe we’ll remember those times. I remember that I left at the end of the match because my ankle had turned (replaced by… Yohan Dufour). I did not take part in the penalty shootout. »

The shirts from which Nantes residents did you collect?

“I only have one. In the first match, with Raon, I had the jersey of William Vainqueur, their number 10. With Epinal, no. We were in euphoria, we celebrated that and suddenly I hadn’t thought of exchanging my jersey. And I’m not one to go to the locker room after a game to complain. »

Have you ever watched the people of Nantes and what does FC Nantes inspire in you today?

“On Wednesday, we brought forward training so that staff and players could watch the Nantes-Lyon second half together. I also recovered the video of the qualification of Nantes in the previous round (0-2 against Vire in Caen). Nantes is a big name in French football, the defending champion in this Coupe de France. And it is one of the European clubs in our league this season. It’s a huge challenge for us. »

You know that Nantes are going to challenge Juventus of Turin in the European Cup. If Massimiliano Allegri, the coach of Juve contacts you for tips on Nantes, what will you do?

“I will give tips, yes, but in exchange for a Juventus shirt and invitations to the European Cup match (laughs). »

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