Those that base their opinion of Andre-Pierre Gignac on his physique alone tend to get a surprise when they see the French frontman in full flow. Despite his 90 kilos, a weight he readily admits is due to his taste for the good things in life, the Toulouse goal machine is extremely fast off the mark and capable of great skill with the ball at his feet. It was his dream season in 2008/09 that opened the doors to the French national team for Gignac, and it did not take long for him to establish himself, at the age of 23, as his country’s first-choice centre-forward during the final months of qualifying matches for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
Before being called up by Les Bleus, Gignac had experienced lows as well as highs to date in his career, which started in the youth team of his home-town club, Martigues, included a year on loan in the third division at Pau, and saw him appear in Ligue 1 for the first time with promoted team Lorient in the 2006/07 season. He made an instant impact in the top division, bagging a hat-trick for the Bretons against Nantes on his full debut.
During the same season, an offer from Toulouse proved too tempting, but once there, he found it difficult to oust Johan Elmander from the team. The Swede’s departure in the summer of 2008 and the confidence bestowed in him by new coach Alain Casanova enabled Gignac to reach new heights. The goals began to flow, sending the natural finisher to the top of the Ligue 1 scoring charts, his 24 strikes beating the existing record of the number of goals in a single season for a Toulouse striker. His first international goal came on 12 August 2009, helping France to a much-needed victory over the Faeroe Islands in a qualifying match for South Africa 2010, and he followed that up with a brace against the same opponents two months later.