London (AFP) – Hugo Lloris opted for football over tennis when he was a youngster but may have grounds for regretting that decision given the sharp downturn in the France captain’s fortunes since lifting the World Cup in July.
Seen as a cool head of the field and a calm presence in goal for Tottenham Hotspur and France over the years, things have gone quickly awry for the 31-year-old since his unbelievable error in the World Cup final that gifted Croatia a second goal in July.
France still won the final but things have hardly improved for Lloris.
Since then he has received a 20-month driving ban in September for being two times over the legal limit in London and was then sidelined by injury — blamed on stress from his arrest by Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino.
His return to football offered little respite. He committed another howler in the Champions League match with Barcelona and then compounded it by Wednesday’s hot-headed decision to charge out of his area and bring down PSV Eindhoven’s Hirving Lozano earning a red card.
The lack of sang froid is an uneasy fit with the man who in 2008 insisted on playing for his then club Nice only two days after his mother, Marie, had died and performing well.
For the moment Lloris appears to have the confidence of Pochettino, who refused to lay the blame at his door even though PSV’s late equaliser following the red card has all but ended Spurs hopes of reaching the knockout stage.
“It wasn’t a mistake, it was an action and a sending off — it can happen a lot in football,” said Pochettino.
– ‘He’s panicked’ –
Others, though, have not been so kind on a player who owns the unwanted record of being the most mistake-prone goalkeeper in the Premier League of late with 10 errors in the last three seasons.
“Sorting out liability Hugo Lloris is Mauricio Pochettino’s toughest job” said the London Evening Standard, accusing the World Cup-winner of failing in his captain’s role of showing his team-mates how to be champions.
The Daily Telegraph asked if “Lloris is becoming a problem Spurs can no longer ignore?” although it adds later that in his five EPL appearances this term he has kept three clean sheets and conceded just two goals.
No other player on the pitch has their mistakes highlighted as much as the man between the posts — but Spurs legend Glenn Hoddle had no sympathy with Lloris for Wednesday’s incident.
“I can’t believe what I’ve just seen. You have got to concentrate,” said Hoddle, who was commentating on the match.
“Lloris comes and he does not need to come. He’s panicked.”
His wealthy parents — his father Luc is a banker in Monte Carlo and his late mother was a lawyer — named him Hugo after the great French author Victor Hugo.
For the moment his mood would be best summed up by the title of one of Hugo’s greatest works — ‘Les Miserables’.
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