He has never been highly sought after. He has never been highly touted. At one point, he was just glad to have a professional contract. His manager once said that he “did not have the level to play among the elite.” Long before his current days as the starting striker for Arsenal, before the name recognition, the ample wages, and the cushy lifestyle, Olivier Giroud was just another face in the crowd.
Raised in a small town in France, it wasn’t until he was 21 when he signed his first professional contract with Grenoble. And that was to play in France’s fifth level. Yes, that’s right, fifth. Gaining in confidence and technique, he scored fifteen goals in fifteen matches that first year with the reserves. Seven months later he was promoted to the senior team. In March 2006, he played his first professional match. And by 2007, he was permanently placed in the senior team. Eighteen appearances and two goals later, Giroud found himself at the end of the campaign for that year and inching closer to the next level. Or so he thought.
The ’07-’08 season found Olivier loaned to Istres in the third level of French football. He tallied 14 goals and his improvement continued. His confidence became more solidified and so did his goal-scoring. He was hoping to keep his momentum going into the following season now that his loan period was finished. Football, however, had different plans. The new manager at Grenoble, Mehmed Bazdarevic, stated he was not an elite talent and therefore not needed for the club’s upcoming campaign in Ligue 1. Giroud remained unfazed. He believed that he and Grenoble could achieve great things together, and wasn’t resentful about the situation. He looked forward. He looked upward. Brighter times were ahead.
In May 2008, it signaled his new start with his new club Tours. He signed a 3 year deal with the Ligue 2 side. While there, he earned 14 goals in 27 appearances, certainly a respectable rate and was gaining the respect of the fans, as well as the coaching staff. Looking back on his time there, he credits his manager Daniel Sanchez with giving him the tutelage he needed. As a result, his positioning and ability in front of goal improved drastically. He was now primed for a starting role in the side.
For the 2009-2010 campaign, Giroud did indeed become the number one striker following the departure of Tenema N’Diaye to Nantes. Through the fall and into winter, Giroud delivered 16 balls into the back of the net. And then he got the call.
Montpellier in the first division of French football had been tracking Giroud for some time and pounced in that year’s winter transfer window. Giroud received a 3 year deal with a transfer fee of 2 million paid to Tours to acquire Olivier’s services. Giroud believed the manager and his staff would be able to help him further his career greatly. Part of his transfer though was that he be loaned back to Tours for the rest of the year.