Laurent Koscielny’s old youth coach didn’t expect him to play for Arsenal and France, but is very proud of his accomplishments.
Koscielny rose from obscurity to play for Arsenal and represent his country.
His rise wasn’t quick, either. He played for small teams in France for many years before Arsene Wenger brought him to Arsenal in 2011.
Manuel Chapapria, who coached Koscielny when was young, certainly didn’t expect the 32-year-old to achieve as much as he did.
He recalls a small player who did not stand out amongst France’s best talent.
“At first, he did not stand out. There were much better players,” he told La Parisien.
“He was small and skinny, and was never chosen for regional or national teams.
“He was the size of a kidney bean, but he was quick and could tackle.
“He listened to everything I told him. Every piece of advice was important to him.”
Koscielny’s first professional appearances came for Guingamp in 2004.
He moved on to Tours FC in Ligue 2 before making the step-up to Ligue 1 with Lorient during the 2009/10 season.
Then, after just one season in the French top flight, he joined Arsenal.
Chapapria remembers being shocked when the transfer happened.
“I never thought he could become an international player. Things progressed little by little.
“He just wanted to reach the best level he could. He didn’t think about playing for France, or even becoming professional, but he wanted to progress. He was willing to make sacrifices for that.
“When he signed for Arsenal, I couldn’t believe it. It was incredible.”
The centre back has since made 308 appearances for Arsenal and has won three FA Cups.
He’s also amassed 50 caps for the France national team, and played in the 2016 European Championships final.
Despite his successes, he always makes time to return to his hometown of Tulle.
“I have the same impression every time I see him. He stayed the same.
“He knows about success and the money, but he did not forget anything.
“He returns to Tulle as soon as he can to holiday with his parents, to see his sister and his childhood friends.”
Chapapria finished by saying that he is proud of Koscielny for how far he’ come.
“He is discreet, humble and grateful. He kept his feet on the ground. Here, we are all proud of him.”