‘Given my titles, my European career’ – Francis Coquelin explains why he’s underappreciated in France

Francis Coquelin (32) has always been a bigger name outside of his native France than within it. The midfielder only ever played one season in his home country when he was sent on loan from Arsenal to FC Lorient, and as of today has never received an international call-up. 

The midfielder speaking exclusively to L’Équipe blames this lack of recognition on his personality, “Given my titles, my European career… I refused to expose myself to the media so I can’t complain. It matches my upbringing, my personality.” 

I wanted to concentrate solely on football and told myself that recognition would come through my performances.” He explains, “I have no regrets. I’m not looking for the spotlight. My goal was to be a professional player and have a career.” 

However, he continued that he would not advise an upcoming professional to do the same. “If I meet a young person who has big ambitions, I would advise them not to neglect the media’s role. To be more easily recruited perhaps.” 

‘Every player dreams of representing their country’ – Francis Coquellin 

Whether this was enough to explain why he had not been selected for the France national side, Coquelin was to the point. “My injuries slowed me down at times too. And at the time when I was doing well at Arsenal, there was huge competition in midfield.” 

However, Coquelin continued, “There are players who have been there and who, in my opinion, were not better than me. I think I could have had one, but it didn’t happen and I have no regrets. Even if every player dreams of representing their country.” 

Despite a career that has largely gone unnoticed in France, the Villarreal player would be interested in returning to his home. “Obviously, I sometimes miss France and I want to go back there. I had discussions with several clubs, notably with Lyon. And if there is an interesting project, I’m not closed to the possibility.” 

On that note, Coquelin still pays attention to the fortunes of Stade Lavallois, the club he originally trained at before being picked up by the Arsenal youth system. “I saw their match against Grenoble Foot (on  Monday). We’re not bad, we’re within two points of Angers SCO (2nd in Ligue 2)! I hope Laval go up. There are three players I played with who are still on the team (Maxime Hautbois, Anthony Gonçalves, and Kévin Perrot). I’ll have to send them a message to give them a little boost.”

For now, the midfielder remains focused on the task at hand for Villarreal. They need to overturn the mountainous 4-0 deficit against Olympique de Marseille to remain within the Europa League. A situation that Coquelin summarises as “Very complicated.” 

GFFN | Nick Hartland

More European Football News