Arthur LeBlond: Goalkeeping, Guendouzi and ambition

Photograph courtesy of Arthur LeBlond

I wanted to take you back to the beginning and the start of your footballing journey. How did your journey start on your road to becoming a professional footballer?

“Reunion Island, a French region off the coast of Madagascar” by NASA Johnson is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I come from a little island called Reunion Island near Madagascar. On the island all the people play football and I play football since I was four years old and since I can walk in all honesty. I played with my friends in the street and then I started to play with the local team in my town. After that I went to an academy in Reunion Island for the top players of the Island and after spending two years in the elite academy, I was recruited by FC Lorient.

You are currently playing for Haringey Borough FC. How are you enjoying your time at the club so far and how would you describe the club?

When I had the opportunity to come to England my idea was to discover adult football before that I was playing academy football which is totally different. I came here to develop myself and make a new step in my carrier, this is why I think non league football is a fantastic football school. Also for me I think English football is quite different from football that I experienced at FC Lorient or RC Lens. It is a very direct football. Haringey Borough FC and the people involved in the club are like a family, they made me feel good when I arrived whether it was on or off the pitch. I’m really glad to be part of such a good quality team and also to be here, in England, the land of football.

You spent time in the youth academy at RC Lens. They are known for having a great youth setup and great players have come through. How are do you look back on coming through their youth academy and did you learn anything in particular which stood you in good stead for your career as a professional footballer?

“Stade Felix-Bollaert – Steve.© -“ by Steve-©-foto is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Yes of course. At RC Lens I entered the professional world in more detail than at Lorient FC. I was with the pro reserve team at RC Lens and I also trained with the first team many times and that was really helpful for me. When you train with the first team you just want to work really hard no matter what it costs to stay with them. I also developed on the mental side of the game, it helped me to grow especially when I sustained a shoulder injury last December it put a stop to my progress and also that season because I was starting the season well so it was hard for me but I was not discouraged I just kept going. This is why I say that being at RC Lens was really helpful on the mental side of professional football. Because I know I’m still young (only 20 years old), for goalkeepers it’s like to be a baby. Goalkeeper is a very specific and demanding position this is why young ones like me have to be patient, keep learning and working very hard.

You also spent time in the youth academy at FC Lorient. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any highlights or special memories?

“File:Stade Route de Lorient 2.JPG” by S. Plaine is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

When I arrived at FC Lorient for me it was the discovery of a very high level of football. But also of the professional football world in things like nutrition and sleep all those little details were a discovery. I had the chance to spend three very important years there during which I had the chance to work with Ilan Meslier who is now the first team goalkeeper at Leeds United, we are still in contact and that is very helpful for me and it shows the quality of the academy of FC Lorient. I have very good memories of my time at the club.

You have accrued good experience at two very well respect academies in France in RC Lens and FC Lorient as well as play football in England. When you look back could you say who are among the best players you have played alongside so far in your career?

“File:1 Mattéo Guendouzi 2018 (cropped).jpg” byChensiyuan is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Yes, Ilan Meslier and also Matteo Guendouzi who signed for Arsenal FC but he is currently on loan at Hertha Berlin in Germany. I also have a few friends who are in the first team of FC Lorient or RC Lens they are young players and very talented players. FC Lorient had a great result yesterday beating Paris St Germain at home in Ligue 1. They always had a good academy with good players such as Kevin Gameiro, André-Pierre Gignac and Laurent Koscielny.

“Laurent Koscielny, Mauro Formica and Andre Santos” by Ronnie Macdonald is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Finally Arthur, could you say who are the coaches and managers who have meant a lot to you and played a key role in your development as a professional footballer?

Yes, when I arrived at FC Lorient I had a goalkeeper coach, Stephane Le Garrec and he really helped me. I had a lot of good coaches at the elite academy in Reunion Island which was really nice and at RC Lens my manager of the pro reserve team was Franck Haise and he is now the current first team manager of RC Lens. They are having a good season on their return to Ligue 1 and that is very good for a team that has been promoted. I would also like to thank all the coaches that I have known in my young career (they are too many for me to mention them) because they influenced my career in one way or another so thank you to them.

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