After getting a rare chance to enjoy the festive period with friends and family, added to a maximum haul of points, Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris says life in England could hardly be better.
With only the long trip to Sunderland between a short drive to Aston Villa for his birthday on Boxing Day and a home game with Reading to bring in 2013, Lloris had the opportunity to celebrate on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, while also helping Spurs to a hat-trick of victories, which has eased them into third place in the Premier League.
“It was really nice to find out about it. I spent my birthday at Aston Villa, but I was still able to enjoy being with friends and family during this time, while also not letting myself go and staying focused on my games,” the 26-year-old, a summer signing from Lyon, told French media following the 3-1 win over Reading.
“A matchday is still a matchday. We had to stay focused. We absolutely did not want to drop points during the festive period, and it was important to cap it all by winning at home, and in style. It sets us up for the new year, and means we’re in touch to qualify for the Champions League.”
What surprised Lloris still more than his team’s success was the fact he could spend most of the festive period at home, and even sip a glass of Champagne on New Year’s Eve, something unheard of in France, where he would most likely have been cosseted in a hotel with his team-mates ahead of a game.
“I appreciate the freedom and the trust of the staff,” said Lloris, who admitted he had celebrated the turning of the year on French time, earning himself a precious extra hour’s sleep. “I understand the risk of being distracted, but we were only off-colour in one game during the Christmas period. The team stayed focused and ambitious.”
Lloris, too, retained his focus and ambition during his initial struggles to dislodge Brad Friedel from the Spurs goal. The France captain seems to have now won over manager Andre Villas-Boas – something that helps him shake off the fatigue built by a season that began early last summer.
“I have fun every day. I’m here to improve and push myself in a different context. It’s important in sporting terms, but also personally,” he said. “A goalkeeper has to be the master of his penalty box, even if it’s trickier here than elsewhere.
“You always have two men blocking your path at corners. That’s part of English football. You have to accept it, and make the right decisions, even if things happen quickly. It’s difficult to hold balls because there are so many people, so it’s better to punch. You have that same battle everywhere, but in England it’s true that you’re a little less protected than elsewhere.”