Caen's Guilbert happy to be home

Ligue 1 Conforama > ligue1show
21/10/2017

After a spell away from his beloved Normandy, it's safe to say Frédéric Guilbert is happy to be home with SM Caen.

"I'm very proud to have come through the ranks here at Caen. I used to watch games over in that stand. I'd come with my Dad, my Granddad, it's an honour," Guilbert tells The Ligue 1 Show on beIN Sports at Caen's Stade Michel-d'Ornano.

Sometimes you need to leave home to fully appreciate how much you love the place. Guilbert - who came through Caen's academy and even captained the Under-19s - did exactly that. At 18 he was told he wouldn't be promoted to the first team squad and was asked to leave his beloved Caen.

"It was very hard to take because I'd just had a good season. I was captain of the Under-19s, but then they decided not to go with me. I had to accept it and bounce back elsewhere. I think that difficult period gave me strength and I've used that experience to get to where I am today," he said.

'Positive experience' at Bordeaux

Guilbert has never been a quitter. After being released by Caen, he joined amateur club Cherbourg, where the defender's speed and determined attitude were spotted by Bordeaux's reserve-team coach, the former France international Patrick Battiston. In 2014 he signed for Les Girondins.

"Bordeaux was a very positive experience. They helped me get to this level and I'll be eternally grateful for that. Patrick Battiston is an amazing person and it's thanks to him I'm here today."

Guilbert was the second most-used player at Bordeaux in 2015-16, but Jocelyn Gourvennec's arrival as coach changed everything. The right-back was again told he could leave, and jumped at the chance to re-join Caen, initially on a season-long loan, last year.

Guilbert (left) challenging Pierrick Capelle of Angers for the ball

"Part of me did want to go back to Caen and show them they were wrong to have let me go. I had unfinished business. I was a kid when I arrived here. When I came back I was an adult. I wanted to show people what I could do."

Premier League interest

He signed a permanent deal in the summer, but only after turning down an offer from the Premier League.

"When you receive an offer from England and you see the figures being quoted, it's a big deal and it makes you think. But I'd given my word to the Caen president. I could still have signed for Brighton instead, but that's not the way I work. I wanted to keep my word and respect Monsieur Fortin who's the president of my hometown team; he's a good person so I did what I had to do."

The popular Guilbert was also influenced by a campaign launched on social media by the Caen fans.

"I was touched by that – it's always nice to feel wanted. That played a part in my decision too. When you know the coach is counting on you and the supporters like you as well, it's easier to play your best football."

Bellyflop

One young man – a passionate Caen supporter – went even further than simple hashtags.

"Over the summer my friends and I published this challenge on Twitter," said 'Charlo'. "Basically I promised to dive in to the port here in Caen if Guilbert signed for Stade Malherbe. I kept my word and did a pretty awful bellyflop. I put the video on Twitter and was delighted that Frédéric replied."

Guilbert added: "I hope he had a good shower afterwards because that water's not very nice! I didn't think he’d actually do it, I thought he was all talk. But he did well and I met up with him when I finally signed for Caen."

Competing with PSG's Julian Draxler last season

Caen fans who spoke to The Ligue 1 Show described him as their favourite player and someone who "gets the job done." And the stats back up the supporters' claims. The 22-year-old right-back hasn't missed a minute yet this season, establishing himself as a vital part of Caen's defence.

"I like my full backs to get forward a lot and he does that. He is a good crosser. And when he's on the pitch he always gives absolutely everything," said coach Patrice Garande.

Marking old mate Lemar

After conceding 65 goals last season, Caen have let in just six in nine games so far this term. No side has conceded fewer than Garande's charges, who look especially solid in their new 4-4-2 formation.

"It's pretty incredible when you compare our stats with last season. There have been a few changes in midfield and in defence, and we're definitely more solid now," said Guilbert.

Garande added: "We have more control throughout the 90 minutes. We're also enjoying more possession and having to defend a bit less."

This weekend Caen take on Monaco, Ligue 1 Conforama's most prolific club last season. Guilbert is relishing the challenge and is especially excited about marking his former mate from the Caen academy, Thomas Lemar.

"Thomas is unpredictable. He's capable of changing direction quickly which makes marking him hard. He won't give me an easy game, but if I have to tackle him, don't worry, I won't hesitate for a second."

>> PLAYER PROFILE: Frédéric Guilbert

>> PREVIEW: Monaco: 'Not a lot of luck'

>> More from The Ligue 1 Show








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