Hugo Lloris too humble, focused to celebrate 100 caps for France
Thursday will be a very special day in Hugo Lloris' career. The France captain will earn his 100th cap against Peru in Yekaterinburg in Les Bleus' second game of the 2018 World Cup. It is a wonderful achievement for the Tottenham goalkeeper and a milestone only achieved seven times in French football history.
Lloris will be in great company as a centurion alongside his current national team head coach Didier Deschamps (103), Patrick Vieira (107), Zinedine Zidane (108), Marcel Desailly (116), Thierry Henry (123) and Lilian Thuram (142). Of those 100 caps, he has worn the armband 76 times: This is by far a record as Deschamps is next with only 54, which speaks volumes of Lloris' leadership.
At 31, there is still room for plenty more caps, too. In pure Lloris fashion, he will not gloat or brag about this. That's simply not his style. He will approach the game like any other, especially such a big one for the team. Following the horror show of Kazan, a lucky 2-1 win over Australia after which he asked his teammates to raise their game, Lloris knows that a second win in a row will be a huge step towards the round of 16. He will not get carried away by his own landmark, instead getting a little surprise from the manager and his teammates afterwards once they are back to their camp to mark his great accomplishment.
Blaise Matuidi has been playing for eight years alongside Lloris and speaks highly of his captain.
"[Lloris] is having a great career, which speaks for itself. It's amazing what he is doing. He has had this longevity because of his talent and because he works so hard every day. We often talk together. He is a proper professional. He has been consistent, credit to him. He is a great keeper," said the Juventus midfielder, who is his vice-captain, to ESPN FC.
In the hours before the game on Thursday, the Nice native will probably remember his first cap 10 years ago in November 2008, at age 21, against Uruguay at the Stade de France (0-0). First game, first clean sheet; he's enjoyed 43 more in the 98 games since.
Lloris might also think about a crucial match away in the Faroe Islands in August 2009, a 1-0 win, when Raymond Domenech decided to give him the No.1 job for good ahead of Steve Mandanda. The pair are the only two players left from that team and Lloris never gave the job back.
So where does Lloris stand in the Pantheon of French goalkeepers? Fabien Barthez is the undisputed best of all time for Les Bleus, but the current French No.1 is right behind him, ahead of Joel Bats, Bernard Lama and the others.
Of course, everything has not always been perfect for the Tottenham man between the posts. Lloris was part of the infamous World Cup 2010 strike in South Africa, for example, and has conceded 0.79 goals per game so far in his career, which puts him eighth in the all-time ranking. Lloris is not even in the top 10 of longest unbeaten streaks for France.
On Thursday, Eric Dier, one of his best friends at Tottenham, will send him a little text before the Peru game. "It is a fantastic achievement! Playing 100 games for your country, most of them as captain as well, is incredible. He deserves all the plaudits because he is a great guy, a great leader and a great player. Those milestones don't happen too often and it's a sign of how great he is," Dier told ESPN FC.
In front of his family, "La Marseillaise" will have an even more important meaning on Thursday. Lloris will write a new page of his own history and add a bit more to that of the France national team, too.
Julien Laurens is a London-based French journalist who writes for ESPN FC and Le Parisien. Follow him on Twitter: @LaurensJulien.