‘I needed to get all this frustration out’ – Guillaume Restes, Toulouse’s bright spark in mixed season was not always destined for football

The results have not always been promising for Toulouse FC in a season where they have put their trust almost exclusively in youth, but Guillaume Restes (19) has shown the benefits that can follow when implementing this strategy. 

Restes had not started a game for Toulouse before this campaign but has smoothly made the transition from a highly gifted academy prospect into the team’s undisputed starting goalkeeper, having played every single Ligue 1 and Europa League fixture, as the club finds itself 11th in the league and only four points of the relegation playoff spot. 

It’s clear that he has developed enormously due to the amount of time and responsibility that has been afforded to him this season, and in a new environment that pushes young players to the forefront, Restes could eventually become the figurehead of what Toulouse hope to build towards. 

Football or tennis for Restes

However, while it seems obvious now, it was not always clear that Restes would become a footballer. Growing up in a family where his mother worked for the French Tennis Federation and his father taught lessons in the sport, it seemed as if he was more suited for the racket rather than the gloves. 

Speaking to L’Équipe, Restes explains that he only chose football over tennis when he was 11. “I couldn’t control my emotions when I was little. Tennis was really too complicated for that. It’s even harder than football. I could break a racket and win the match afterwards. I needed to get all this frustration out. In football, I liked diving, jumping everywhere, helping the team win, saving penalties.” 

Still, there were lessons that Restes took from tennis that he would later use to shape him as a goalkeeper, “Tennis taught me a lot of things because it’s an individual sport, like being a goalkeeper. When we make a mistake, it’s us. When we make a save, it’s us.” 

‘I didn’t think it would happen this season’

It was when he was around 14 or 15 that those around him began to take note of the talent at hand and began telling him that he would become a top goalkeeper. For someone at such a young age, it can be a burden to be told something like this, as there can be an unreasonable pressure to live up to that expectation. 

Restes never felt that way. “I never experienced it as pressure. I was convinced it was possible, but I gave myself the means to make it happen. At the club, they pushed me as well. When it was necessary to train with the pros, it was me who went there. It was up to me to prove it then.” 

Despite all those years of people telling him he would make it, it was only in the summer that he began to realise just how close he was to becoming a professional, and even then “Honestly, I didn’t think it would happen this season.” Regardless of what he thought, Toulouse were ready for Restes to make the change, and from the summer friendlies he was thrust into the first team.

‘My defenders had to gain confidence in me’ 

Restes explains of the adjustment, “Éric Allibert (former goalkeeper and Toulouse coach) warned me that when I started playing with the pros I shouldn’t shout at them, but to reassure them. My defenders had to gain confidence in me. And to reassure them you simply have to make the saves.” 

He continues, “You have tot talk to them, encourage them, of course. The match against AS Roma (a friendly on the 6th of August) gave me confidence and gave them some too. But I trained for two years with them, I already had their respect. We just had to show it in a match.

A step up to the French national side, Restes admits is still a long way off. “The ‘step’ is very, very big. There are several steps to climb. I am ambitious with the Espoirs already. We have the Euros in 2025, the Olympics (this summer). The Olympics in Paris will be incredible. It’ll give us experience. Of course, there will be things to look for afterwards, but you have to do it step by step.” 

The young goalkeeper concluded with a clear objective in mind, “Playing in the Europa League with Toulouse gives you ideas. It’s crazy. I want to continue playing in it with Toulouse. We are ambitious at the club. A successful career would be to win titles, a cup with Toulouse, a lot matches, to make a lot of saves, to enjoy every moment.” 

GFFN | Nick Hartland

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