Family Ties: Marcus Thuram steps out of his father’s shadow before debut in France


Lilian Thuram may be a French football legend, but her son Marcus has fully earned the chance to write his legacy with Les Bleus

Marcus Thuram may be the son of a World Cup winner, but there’s no doubt that when he makes his French debut next week, he’ll have earned that limit on his own.

Nations League matches against Portugal and Sweden are looming, but Borussia ace Monchengladbach is likely to make his first appearance with Bleus in Wednesday’s friendly with Finland.

He was not even a year old when his father, Lilian, became the most unlikely of heroes in the semi-final of the French World Cup against Croatia in 1998.

During his record 142 appearances for his country, the former defender only scored in that one match, but did so twice as the 10-man hosts defied the odds of winning 2-1 in Paris.

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On the pitch that day was Didier Deschamps, who will be on the bench when the son of his former teammate takes his first touches as a national team at 23.

“Praise goes to Marcus,” Deschamps told reporters. “He took it to the next level with the club.

“He has the ability to make a difference with a lot of power and rhythm. He scores goals, scores goals and has the ability to be good in important matches.”

Thuram’s football legacy may be impressive, but he made his way to the top of the game via the scenic route.

“Marcus was not chosen because of his father,” said Euro 2000 winner Robert Pires The Parisian. “He has his strength, because in football being ‘the son of …’ is dangerous.

“I remember Lilian was very protective of him and refused to expose him too much. One day he said to me: “I hope Marcus is technically better than me!” I told him it won’t be difficult! “

Now the hopes of the proud father are being realized.

The renowned academy of Sochaux, a Ligue 2 team, is where he finished his training and became a French second level professional in 2015.

While he showed some promise, the fact that he moved to Guingamp in 2017 for just € 600,000 (£ 534,000 / $ 710,000) reflected his still raw qualities and the fact that he had only scored one league goal at a professional level.

It was only in Brittany that his talent really began to awaken. Deploying regularly on the left side of their attack, he showed significant improvement in his two seasons at the club, notably scoring nine goals in 2018-19.

What was most impressive, however, were his offensive qualities. Fast and strong, his physical qualities have been matched to his dribbling skills as well as his intelligence.

When Gladbach beat out competition from major Ligue 1 clubs like Marseille and Lyon to sign Thuram, they probably didn’t really like the deal they were getting for € 9m (£ 8m / $ 10.6m). .

His debut campaign produced 14 goals and nine assists in 39 games and formed a formidable forward partnership with compatriot Alassane Plea.

Already in this period, Thuram has scored and scored three goals, having improved his decision-making process and efficiency at goal in the Bundesliga.

If his instinct for attack wasn’t taught to him by his father, his keen sense of social justice was.

Lilian Marcus Thuram France Monchengladbach GFX

Since leaving the game, Lilian has been an advocate of anti-racism and instilled the same will to fight for equality in Marcus, who is named after Marcus Garvey, the Jamaican political activist.

Indeed, Thuram was the first European player to show solidarity with George Floyd, the American citizen killed by police in Minneapolis earlier this year, and the Black Lives Matter movement by celebrating a goal against Union Berlin by kneeling with the fist in the air.

“I always told my children that if they wanted a more egalitarian society, they had to participate,” Lilian said Western France in October, also referring to Kephren, a teenage midfielder who is gaining regular playing time with Nice.

For now, however, Marcus has taken the spotlight.

“His father doesn’t overshadow him,” Deschamps said. “He is used to this speech. When you are a “son of”, it always comes back.

“Today it’s about his career: his father’s is over. If Marcus is here with us it’s because he deserves it. “

Lilian Thuram will never be forgotten for his contribution to French football, but Wednesday’s game with Finland represents Marcus’ first chance to start his legacy with Bleus.


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