Fofana - I almost quit rugby
Wesley Fofana, who will make his France debut on Saturday, admits he came close to walking away from the game during his younger days.
Last Updated: 01/02/12 12:54pm
Centre Wesley Fofana, who will make his France debut on Saturday, admits he came close to walking away from the game during his younger days.
The 24-year-old Clermont Auvergne star has been rewarded for his outstanding club form this term with a place in the starting line-up against Italy by new national team coach Philippe Saint-Andre.
However, Fofana almost turned his back on rugby to pursue a promising football career which saw him play alongside the likes of France international winger Jeremy Menez.
He acknowledges he had doubts about whether he would make the grade at rugby and concedes he initially lacked the hunger to progress to the top level.
"At the time, when I was undergoing training at Marcoussis (the National Centre of Rugby), I almost gave rugby up," Fofana explained.
"I was a little bit too nonchalant. It was very strict, very rigorous and I really didn't have the hunger to pursue a professional career in the sport.
Close to quitting
"I asked myself: 'Why not stop?' However, the physical trainer of the French youth training group (Jean-Luc Arnaud) said to me: 'Are you crazy? No, do not stop.'
"So I carried on and I've done well, I think.
"Unlike my contemporaries, it wasn't a dream of mine to play for France at rugby. I didn't think about it a lot when I was small. It only dawned on me later, when I arrived at Clermont (in 2008) and I realised that I was now a professional player.
"I think that I matured more slowly than some of my generation."
Fofana has admitted he was stunned to be handed a debut by Saint-Andre, especially after being a late addition to the squad, but is now determined to cement his place in the team.
"It is a surprise to be starting the first match," he continued. "Being the last to be called up, I said to myself that I wouldn't necessarily begin the match and that I would be used as cover for two positions (wing and centre).
"It is a surprise, but a very nice surprise. If it goes well, so much the better, and if I can maintain my place, that will be perfect."