DOHA: Hugo Lloris said Saturday he was “honoured and very proud” at the prospect of equalling Lilian Thuram as France’s most-capped player in the World Cup last-16 clash with Poland in Doha.
“It is no small achievement. I am really honoured at the figures and very proud, even if it is very much secondary to the fact that we are on the eve of the last 16 of the World Cup,” the France captain told reporters.
Lloris is set to win his 142nd cap for his country and will therefore match the record held by former right-back Thuram whose own international career spanned 14 years and who was part of the France team that won the 1998 World Cup.
The Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper, who turns 36 later this month, made his France debut in November 2008, just a few months after Thuram went into international retirement.
“In my eyes, this competition comes before anything else,” Lloris insisted as the French team prepare to face Poland at al-Thumama Stadium.
“I want to conserve all my energy for tomorrow (Sunday) because it’s going to be another battle.
“The record is something I will appreciate more once the competition is finished, and I hope it finishes in the best way possible.”
Lloris, who skippered France to victory at the 2018 World Cup, will return to the starting line-up against Poland after being rested for Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat by Tunisia in their final group game.
He was praised by coach Didier Deschamps, who himself won 103 caps and is the only other French player to captain Les Bleus to victory in a World Cup final.
“Records are there to be beaten. Obviously, some records mean more than others and this one speaks for itself, having all these caps and playing for so many years at the very highest level,” he said.
France are strong favourites to beat Poland and advance to the quarter-finals but Lloris will have to come up against Robert Lewandowski, arguably the most lethal striker in the modern game.
“He has been one of the best number nines in the world for years now but they are a good side collectively and they take a lot of pleasure in defending and suffering,” Lloris said.
Meanwhile, Deschamps said he saw no point in going back over with his players what happened in France’s last knockout tie at a major tournament, when they lost on penalties to Switzerland in the last 16 of last year’s European Championship.
“I don’t see the interest in talking about that. The players who were there will not want to relive it,” he said. “The only thing in common is that it was also a last-16 tie.”