Back in the French team this week, after missing the previous camp due to a deep personal malaise, the captain of the Valentin Porte has confided in his situation.
Monday, in the late afternoon at the Maison du Handball in Créteil. Smiling, Valentin Porte plays the goalkeeper at the end of the training of the Blues.
A French team that the Montpellier team found, after leaving it momentarily, the time to heal not a physical wound but a deep and painful wave to the soul.
That he had confided without taboo to the daily L’Equipe a month before. A moving confession for this boy always of good composition but who, behind this very pleasant character, hid cracks.
And even if everything is not settled, Valentin Porte “is better,” as he took the time to entrust it without any wooden tongue before challenging Spain twice in a friendly match (Thursday at 21:05 in Paris and Saturday at the same time on the side of Chambéry).
Valentin, how do you feel when you return to the French team at the Maison du handball de Créteil?
Valentin Porte: It makes me a little weird. I only missed one internship, but I feel like it’s been a long time since I came. I arrived on Sunday night a little late. There was all the staff and I had a good night.
Some were happy to see me again, others preferred to room me a little, and I think it pleases everyone. Finally, I hope so (smile). That’s cool. That’s why I came back, and it makes me happy to see all this beautiful little world again.
What did you tell them when you found them?
I explained to them the why of the how and that in the previous internship, I did not feel to be there. I apologized for this absence and for not following their performance because I felt the need to cut.
And I told them that today I got back on track, I felt better psychologically, and I felt ready to make my return among them.
Like other great sportsmen or sportswomen suffered a post-Olympic backlash?
No, it’s completely different. I can’t compare my situation to those of athletes who have difficulty chaining after a medal or a title. After Tokyo, I was looking forward to my club and my teammates.
Now, when I get home from work, I know I have to give time to my family to my friends.
Did you experience the media whirlwind triggered by your speech?
Yes, since I was the one who provoked it. If I hadn’t wanted to talk about it, I would have kept everything. This approach of talking about it publicly may have done me some good. It allowed me to help some people talk about it.
And I didn’t do this to make myself complain, but because I needed it at the time. After, it’s sure that some people think that, because I’m an Olympic champion, everything is fine in my life, that I’m in my quiet little bubble… And somewhere, to be honest, they weren’t wrong because I thought I was safe from all that.
Until the day I opened my eyes, came out of this bubble, and realized that there was more to handball in my life. And it’s not just the hand. There is also family, and it takes time for everything. I have to learn to prioritize.
To say today that you are ready to come back is a small victory for you…
Yes. I’m getting better. I am getting back on track in my private life. When I got in touch with coach Guillaume Gille, I told him I felt ready. Or that at least I felt less discomfort, and anxiety, than last time.
I am on the right track, but everything is not settled yet. I have to continue to work on myself. I am different, and I often say that in life, I am Valentin Porte, and on the field, I am number 28. There is a very important life off the pitch, and sometimes I tended to be overinvested for my club or the selection.
So, when I came home, I didn’t cut or much too little. Now, when I get home from work, I know I have to give time to my family to my friends. But that’s not easy to change…
Guillaume Gille spoke about the return of his captain. This means that you will continue to wear the armband…
Until proven otherwise, yes. At least sometime later, I hope. These are topics that will be discussed. In addition, it is the last week in selection before a big break. I couldn’t see myself not being there. But I feel better.
So I felt like I was there. After this week, it will be time to think carefully, see how it goes, and digest this week and this return.
You can want to win without feeling the pressure of the result.
Thursday evening, you will also find the Accor Hotels Arena of Bercy against Spain…
Yes. Between players, we asked ourselves when was our last match in France without a gauge. This dates from the beginning of 2020, I believe. It’s great to finally be able to relive this with our audience.
We have given ourselves the luxury of being able to play two prestigious matches but without pressure, while other nations will have to fight to qualify for the next World Cup. It’s up to us to make the most of it.
This will end a long international season, which started with the Olympics in Tokyo in the summer of 2021 via the Euro in January 2022…
Yes, it is a moment awaited by everyone because the sequence of competitions has been delicate for the head and the body, especially in these two matches where we could not dream better than to be at home, against Spain, a very beautiful nation, without pressure.
Without pressure, but probably with the desire to win anyway…
Of course. You can want to win without feeling the pressure of the result. He is out of the question in addition to showing a bad face at home, especially against Spain. But in terms of qualification or other issues.
Is it refreshing to play Spain when you’re used to challenging Denmark or Norway in the Golden League?
Yes, it will feel good to see a little something else. Spain, we don’t come across it that often. They have a very different style of play from the Scandinavian or Nordic handball that we often face. It’s a style that looks more like us, with a defense that likes to set many traps.
It is very different, and it will allow us to gauge ourselves on something else. And then it’s a high-quality nation, so it’s going to be two high-quality matches.
Especially since we beat them quite widely last time, they will therefore be keen to show another face. And we, we will want to mark our territory even more.