The ex-captain of the France team Ophélie Meilleroux flourishes between Morvan and Yzeure

She still hasn’t hung up her crampons. Ex-captain of the French football team, Ophélie Meilleroux has worn the national jersey 67 times. The 38-year-old assistant coach is now flourishing in sport in Yzeure (Allier) and for seven years in her role as head of the maintenance department for the Bourbon-Lancy schools.

After this football career, how did you come to Bourbon?

My professional career has constantly followed the sports field, because the high level only lasts for a while. I stopped my career in Montpellier in 2014, when I was 30 years old. I lost my dad in 2013 and I wanted to get closer to my mom, in Montluçon (Allier). Through acquaintances with my heart club of Yzeure (Allier), I arrived in December 2015 in Bourbon. The women’s club was looking for a player-coach for their team. I then met Edith Gueugneau who, after several interviews, offered me this job as head of the school maintenance department. A job with multiple tasks that fascinates me. Today I am in charge of 17 agents.

How did you start a football career?

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I grew up in Montluçon where my worker parents worked at Dunlop. In the city, very close to the stadium, I attended EDSM matches with my father (Editor’s note, the local flagship club). Only girl, I played with the boys. One day I followed them in training and asked to participate. Registered with the club, I played there from seven years to 15 years. They let me do it and everything went well.

I signed in 2010 in the “Loulou” club, in Montpellier.

With the passion for the game and the advice of my coach, I progressed, expressing my physical qualities in central defense. At 15 came the hour of choice. I couldn’t play with the boys anymore and there was no women’s team. I played two years in Yzeure. Then spotted in tournaments and in the Auvergne selection, I returned to the Clairefontaine training center in 2002. Football was everything to me.

And then ?

At 19, the start of my semi-professional career, I left to play in D1 in Soyaux (suburb of Angoulême, Charente). At the same time, I did military school in Montargis and passed the assistant policeman competition. I joined the Angoulême gendarmerie for five years. A serious injury (cruciate ligament rupture) made me return to Yzeure for a year and a half. There, I returned to the town hall of Yzeure as a security officer with the municipal police. Restored, I signed in 2010 in the club of “Loulou”, Louis Nicollin, in Montpellier, also exercising part-time in security at the town hall.

A title of European U19 champion in 2003, I was captain; the 2011 World Cup in Germany, the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

From the city of Dunlop to the international stars of women’s football, in the European Championship, in the World Cup and in the Olympic Games, what are your best memories?

It’s hard to choose. For me, it was just bliss. When I was in the gendarmerie, I was part of the French military team. But I had this injury when I was in contact with PSG, Juvisy, Lyon, Montpellier, then Marseille. I had the chance to wear the France team jersey from the youth teams, where I experienced unforgettable moments: a title of European U19 champion in 2003, I was captain; the 2011 World Cup in Germany, the 2012 Olympic Games in London… Beyond the results, I was delighted with everything, even if I regret not having played in the Champions League with Montpellier.

What do you think of women’s football today?

The world of women’s football has evolved a lot: it is much more publicized, thanks to its big clubs and their results on the European scene. Thanks also to a successful French team, with Corinne Deacon (the coach), with whom I played at Soyaux and with whom I am still in friendly contact. When I went to Yzeure or Soyaux, they were still fairly family clubs where human relations counted. In Montpellier, it was professionalism above all, focused on winning goals. Individually and collectively, you have to be efficient. While working, I trained every evening, in the morning on Tuesday and Thursday, plus Saturday!

With my job here in Bourbon, my daily life is full and I like that!

Today and for five years, I take pleasure as assistant coach of the club of Yzeure, which evolves in D2. It’s a need for me: I experience other sensations, another adrenaline. With my job here in Bourbon, my daily life is full and I like that!

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