Known on the circuit as The Machine, a straight-faced Bruce Grannec kept his emotions well under control after beating Mexican gamer Andrei Torre Vivero to win the FIFA Interactive World Cup Grand Final in Madrid on Wednesday.
“I know him well and he really puts on a front,” said the Frenchman’s manager Sasha, who accompanies him everywhere as part of his back-up team. “In private he’s a very funny kid and very open too.”
Now a two-time world champion, having won the title for the first time in 2009, Grannec is a genuine professional showcasing his immense talent on a circuit that is becoming increasingly popular.
“I’m very happy, even if it might not look that way. I always express myself like this,” the man himself told FIFA.com while clutching the trophy in his hands.
Grannec’s 1-0 victory in the final, secured by a fierce right-footed Cristiano Ronaldo drive, earned him a $20,000 prize and a place at next year’s FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala, sparking celebrations among the members of his team. Given the tough opening day their man endured on Monday, their delight was understandable.
“I thought I was going out and I said to myself: you can’t leave this tournament like this,” he explained. “As far as I’m concerned I had to play six finals from day two onwards and I’m so pleased I won the lot of them. The pressure was really on.”
No easy task
Grannec, whose exploits in Madrid were closely followed by the French press, had to work very hard to win the crown for a second time. Indeed, had his Mexican opponent not missed an open goal in the closing seconds of the final, he could easily have ended the tournament a runner-up.
Pondering that near miss and the performance of Vivero, whom he beat 5-0 in the group phase, Grannec said: “I thought it was a goal too. I think it all came down to the fact that my team, Real Madrid, finishes better than Brazil (the side Vivero chose for the final). You need a bit of luck too, don’t you? I lost last year’s final on penalties, and today I won it with that miss. Who knows, maybe it will be his turn next time.”
In reference to that emphatic group-phase win, he added: “I knew it was going to be different this time because he wasn’t playing with Barcelona and a three-man defence. He’d had a fantastic day with Brazil and four men at the back and I knew I’d be facing a totally different player.”
The subject of a documentary on his career, Grannec then summoned up a joke about his manager, who is unable to watch his games, finding the pressure too much to bear: “My friends are like that. They always desert me when the going gets tough.”
As a group of journalists waited nearby to get a word with him, the champion described his excitement at the prospect of rubbing shoulders with the world’s greatest footballers in Zurich next January and reflected one last time on what victory meant to him: “I haven’t decided what I’ll do with the money yet, but I’ll share it with friends and family. The important thing is this new title, the world championship, which is all down to hard work.”