interview with Captain Yoann Barbet

Yesoann Barbet is used to wearing an armband around his left bicep: this was the case at his first club, within the Bordeaux reserve, then intermittently at Brentford and Queens Park Rangers. From now on, the freshly thirty-year-old is the undisputed and indisputable captain of the Girondins. Thursday, for half an hour, he talked about this status, what he does with it, and the pride he takes in it.

The fact of leading a group, of being a locomotive, is that your character in everyday life as well?

Not necessarily. In my life as a couple, we share all the decisions but it’s often my wife who has the last word (smile). I’m not a follower but I’m a very cool, calm and quiet person. On the pitch, it’s different. I put myself in a bubble. It’s my livelihood, I represent a crest. I have to be efficient.

How the captaincy was decided at the Girondins…

Yesoann Barbet is used to wearing an armband around his left bicep: this was the case at his first club, within the Bordeaux reserve, then intermittently at Brentford and Queens Park Rangers. From now on, the freshly thirty-year-old is the undisputed and indisputable captain of the Girondins. Thursday, for half an hour, he talked about this status, what he does with it, and the pride he takes in it.

The fact of leading a group, of being a locomotive, is that your character in everyday life as well?

Not necessarily. In my life as a couple, we share all the decisions but it’s often my wife who has the last word (smile). I’m not a follower but I’m a very cool, calm and quiet person. On the pitch, it’s different. I put myself in a bubble. It’s my livelihood, I represent a crest. I have to be efficient.

How was the captaincy decided at the Girondins?

It happened naturally. I spoke with the coach but he never told me word for word that I was captain. I was in the first friendly matches. Basically, I imagine it was logical, given my experience abroad (seven years in Brentford and QPR in the Championship, editor’s note) and the fact that I was almost the oldest in the team. I think it was either me or Vital (Nsimba). I arrived first (smile). But even without the armband, I would have had the same attitude. The group makes it easy for me.

Have you met captains who will inspire?

I’ve known super tough captains who yelled at everyone, who smashed you if you missed a pass. It can freak you out. Me, when I raise my voice, it’s to encourage and get the most out of everyone. Among those who have marked me, there is Lee Wallace, at QPR. He wasn’t captain all the time, but pfff (admiringly), he knew football! If he becomes a coach, he will be extraordinary. He was respected by everyone and never had a negative word about anyone.

For you, the native of Libourne, trained at the Girondins, is it special to wear the armband of this club?

I couldn’t expect more. Having the opportunity to come back was already an incredible opportunity. Even today, I don’t always realize it! Relatives tell me: “Oh, you are the captain of the Girondins! “With the club in L2, maybe I don’t measure the extent of my role, but I see it with all the messages I see on social networks.

What do you like about this role?

Manage to draw the positive from everyone, to remove the pressure when it is there. I want them to realize that they can count on me when things go wrong. It happened to me to speak to young people who were not well on the field or outside. I am the captain, but also a teammate, a father, a friend, a ‘brother’ for some (smile). You’re not just a captain on the field, otherwise it’s too easy.

How does it relate to the other leaders of the group, Vital Nsimba and Gaëtan Poussin?

At the start of the season, the manager wanted to speak to a few leaders. It stayed like that. We discuss with him, with Admar (Lopes, sports director). We hold small meetings, for example just with defenders or midfielders, to say what needs to be improved. We are in the exchange. Sometimes I talk, sometimes someone else, because when it’s just me, sometimes it can be boring (smile). For example, it was Vital who spoke at Quevilly. For the rest, sometimes, after a victory, I can go see the coach or the president and go to bed saying “see you Tuesday! when we have practice on Monday. It worked once or twice (laughs). But not all the time, because we tended to relax after certain victories.

Two or three weeks ago, David Guion said that he had nothing more to say to you and that it was up to you, the players, to take hold of this end of the season. Is the role of executives then central?

Everyone knows how we play. We also know what the coach expects of us. It’s up to us to find the words to motivate, to take the pressure off. There are three games left. It’s the first time that the youngsters will play a climb, it may not be easy to manage. For example, I receive hundreds of messages saying that we absolutely have to win, from people I don’t know but who are fully behind us. When you’re 18 or 20, you’re not necessarily ready.

How do you support these young people?

My speech is not to take the lead, to continue to play with this carelessness, that they try, that they let go and that they run. I will try to talk to them to see how they feel and tell them that everything is going to be fine, that we are there behind. It’s also good that the experience is in the defense, apart from Malcom (Bokele) who is younger (23 years old). They need to know that they can rely on that.

Recently, you were seen interrupting a dance start by your teammates after a goal. Is that part of the job?

I am very superstitious. The previous weekend, we were leading 1-0 at Sochaux, two or three were happy and behind we had been equalized. Dancing 3-0, I don’t care, do it for ten minutes if you want! But at 1-0 when you’re not very well… We can take a little photo and go back to work. I’m not old-fashioned but a bit boring (smile).

Is it difficult to find the happy medium between the good comrade in the locker room and the one who always has to make sure that it does not deviate from a certain line?

I don’t do arithmetic, but sometimes I say to myself: “Shut up, you may be a bit of a pain, everyone is fine, you also have to know how to let go of the pressure”. It happens that Vital looks at me and I say to myself: “Ah, maybe I shouldn’t have said that, I’m going a bit overboard on that one” (smile). But we have such an easy-going group… I get fucked up. I prefer that rather than nobody saying anything and talking behind my back saying that I am pissing them off.

In the younger generation, do you see profiles of future leaders or captains?

It’s hard because I talk a lot! If I had to find a small fault with the young people in our group, it is that they do not communicate enough on the pitch. During a workout where I’m a little less well, I don’t speak and I realize that it’s quiet. Tom (Lacoux) is the one who is most capable because he is not afraid to speak. Junior (Mwanga) will be a great player, and the day he speaks more, he will pass a big milestone.

How do you feel about this group with three games remaining?

GOOD. Everyone continues to work seriously. I talked a lot on Monday afternoon about Quevilly’s first period. Everyone must be aware of what we can do if we manage to climb. It can simply change lives. I told them several times. Not everyone has the chance to mark the history of a club. We are 270 minutes away from doing so.

Does the “capi” Barbet know if he will be at the Girondins next season, whatever happens?

I hope (laughs). I don’t see why I wouldn’t be at the Girondins. I signed up for three years plus an optional year. I’m here, I’m having fun. I want to stay at the club as long as possible.

Cloakrooms

The worst loser? Malcolm Collect.
The most roomy? Vital building.
The one who uses the mirrors? Tom Lacoux. However, I am not bad too! Every time I meet him, he’s in front of a mirror. He likes himself (laughs).
The biggest? Malcolm Collect.
The coach’s favorite? Junior Mwanga, Malcolm Bokele and Dilane Bakwa. When a coach sleeps, he loves the player.
The most stylish? Alexi (Pitu) has a particular, committed style. Me, I like it.
Most impressive in training? Josh (Maja) in front of goal.

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