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20.07.2016, 10:52
Aymeric Minne: The man to fulfill France’s high expectations
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RISING STARS #4: After having gold for two summers in a row, France and their centre back Aymeric Minne enter the Men’s 20 EHF EURO as one of the ‘super favourites’
 

Aymeric Minne: The man to fulfill France’s high expectations

Two years after they won gold at the Men’s 18 EHF EURO and one year after they topped the podium at the Youth World Championship, France arrive at the upcoming Men’s 20 EHF EURO in Denmark with a lot of expectations to live up to.

Some of the previous years’ gold medallists have already made the step into the senior national team, and aim for gold at Rio 2016 (such as Ludovic Fabregas), but the majority of the team is still intact and wants to win the third trophy in a row.

“It’s no surprise that we are branded the ‘super favourites’ of the competition, but we showed last summer that pressure does not do us much harm,” says centre back Aymeric Minne and sounds like a true professional despite being only 19.

“Many of us have stepped up to another level in our clubs. Now is the time to deliver, even though key players like Ludovic Fabregas, Benoit Kounkoud or Julien Meyer won’t be with us this time.”

Playing with Jérôme Fernandez every day

Minne is one of the many players in France’s under 20 team who played in the French first division this season, consequently making much more progress than he had done in the past.

At Aix, which he joined last summer from Toulouse, he is now coached by Jérôme Fernandez, a true hero of his. “I had already trained a couple of times with him in Toulouse and I very much wanted to follow him to Aix,” he recalls. “When you talk about charisma and experience, Jérôme was one of the players I looked up to. For sure, he has already made me a better player within one season.”

And what can the best scorer of all times for the French national team bring to a young player like Minne? “He has taught me a lot about the value of the ball in key moments of the game, about keeping your head cold. But more importantly, he wants to make me the player I have to be, not the player he wants me to be.”

Dika Mem is living the dream

The development of the French centre back of course has been watched by many in the national championships, but some of his teammates have even gained international recognition already.

For instance, FC Barcelona Lassa just signed Dika Mem, who two years ago only played in the fourth division, for the next six years.

It is yet another sign, if any was needed, that there is a plethora of young French players rising through the ranks. “Dika is living the dream for all of us at the moment,” says Aymeric Minne, who may well experience something similar in the nearer future.

“We’re all very happy for him. I don’t know if, in terms of clubs, there’s anything above Barcelona at the moment. Of course, you’d like it to happen to you, but there’s no point rushing it. I’m 19, I’m sure the opportunity will present itself if I keep on working.”

For under 20 coach Yohann Delattre, several of his players are stars in the making and the process has already started. “We can see that these guys are working the right way in their clubs. We have seen constant progress and the fact that some of them have already been integrated into the senior national team is some kind of testimony to it”.

A competition France takes seriously

Even though the majority of players has experience on the top level, France do not take the Men’s 20 EHF EURO lightly.

“Taking part at this EURO allows you to be as close as it gets to the next level, which is the senior national team,” concludes Minne.

“It gives you exposure but also the opportunity to carry on making progress. Nothing’s guaranteed just because we have won gold the past two summers. So before talking about what we want to achieve, we’ll have to take Serbia, Switzerland and Poland (France's opponents in the preliminary round) very seriously.”

He then takes a break and admits : “But of course, when you’re used to winning, you want it to carry on, don’t you ?”

Photos: Stephane Pillaud, Kevin Domas


TEXT: Kevin Domas / ts
 
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