Six years ago, almost to the day,Francelifted the FIFA U-17 World Cup Trophy at Trinidad and Tobago
2001. Anthony Le Tallec scored in the final and along with Florent
Sinama-Pongolle was one of the stars of the tournament, giving
opposition defences the run-around.
Now, six years on, there is another Le Tallec looking to get on the score-sheet forFrance. Anthony's younger brother Damien is playing up front for the Mini-Bleus and is obviously being compared with his older sibling. As he explained to FIFA.com, he has two main aims at Korea 2007: to ensure his team progress as far as possible at the tournament, and to emerge from his brother's shadow. If he achieves the first goal, then the second should naturally follow.
FIFA.com: Damien, France lost their opening match 2-1 to Nigeria. How do you feel about this defeat?
Damien Le Tallec: Well we're obviously disappointed because we played well, but we made two mistakes at the back and we lost because of that. We maybe got a bit tired towards the end and we suffered a bit from the heat which the Nigerians are probably more used to. That might have been why we didn't manage an equaliser.
You had very few chances up front. How does that make you
I didn't get a single chance so it's really frustrating! I put myself about a lot and was always looking for the ball, but my team-mates didn't manage to put me through. It's a shame because we had the better of the play, but playing well doesn't necessarily mean that you go on to win.
Haitiare your next opponents. Do you think that the history between the two countries will make it a special match?
To tell youthe truth, I don't know much about history! (laughs) It's obviously a special kind of match, but more so for them than for us. We'll just be looking to win. For them, they'll probably be more fired up against us than other teams because it'sFrancethey're playing.
Is the coach going to make any changes from the opening line-up for the next match?
I don't know yet, but I think that we lost toNigeriadue to a problem in terms of tactics. We played pretty well despite the scoreline, but we didn't have much luck. Who knows, this time we might not play as well but we absolutely have to win.
There's little room for error now…
Before the tournament started, we said that we at least wanted to get through the first round, and then after that get as far as possible, and that still hasn't changed. We need to win the next two matches to achieve the first aim. And if we get through, we'll take each game as it comes after that. We're pretty optimistic though. At the European Championship, we got through even though we lost one and drew one of our three group matches.
Your brother Anthony won the 2001 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Is it tough to be called Le Tallec and be following in his footsteps six years on?
It certainly is. Not just here either. Everyone's always asking me about my brother. He's already had a great career so far and won the French Cup, so people talk about him a lot, comparing me with him and with what he's done. It's not always easy.
What do you have to do to stop people calling you
I think I've already started to make a name for myself by helping this team qualify for the World Cup. Showing what I'm capable of out on the pitch and helping France go as far as possible will mean that people will know my first name as well as my last.
Have you spoken to your brother since the tournament began?
Of course. He called me after we lost to Nigeria and reminded me that in 2001, they lost 2-1 to Nigeria in a group match as well and still went on to win the whole thing. That's quite a coincidence. I told my team-mates this and it's helped to fire us up for the remaining matches.
Did he talk to you about when he won at Trinidad and Tobago 2001?
He told me that it was incredible and a really special moment for him. I remember what it was like. I watched all of his games on the television but I never thought that one day I would be there myself, doing the same.
Can the 2007 team do as well as their 2001 counterparts?
I honestly think that we have a very good team and that we can go far. We're solid at the back, even if we did make two silly mistakes against the Nigerians, and there is a lot of skill and quality in midfield and up front. But I also think that we've been unlucky. We ended up in a difficult group with two tough teams in Nigeria and Japan, while Haiti are also going to give it everything they've got against us because we're France. So the draw could have been kinder to us and while other teams got a relatively easy match to start, we had to face Nigeria straight away! We're still hopeful though. In 2001, France started off in the same way and we all know how they finished up.
Do you have any plans for 9 September (thedate of the Final)?
I hope that I'll still be in Korea, out there with one more match to play. ( smiles).