The Camavinga's life (17 years) has been intimately related to that of Nicolás Martinais, budding star family friend ever since I recruited him to the Fougéres club and it was decisive for the family to rebuild their lives after a devastating fire in your home.
Do you remember the day you met Camavinga?
Well he was actually Eduardo (laughs). It was in training and Yannick, the other educator, told me to take a good look at him, that he was a diamond … I proposed that they do a one-on-one exercise and finish on goal. Eduardo took the ball, let it run between his legs and the defender did not understand what was happening. Then, he arrived in front of the goalkeeper, pretended to shoot and made an elastic to enter the goal with the ball. He was only 9 years old and it looked like a gem.
What did your parents do?
The father worked in a slaughterhouse. The mother was always a housewife.
How would you define Camavinga's personality?
He is very well educated, like all his brothers. They are no problem boys. She is a very smiling, charming person, and she is very humble. Her family is very religious and focuses a lot on an African education with a lot of respect and generosity.
Does he only play soccer?
Sébastiao, the older brother, also played in youth teams. And dad too. Now both continue playing at an amateur level … It shows that there are good genes (laughs).
Where does your friendship with family come from?
One morning, around 9am, the family's house caught fire. Fortunately there was no one. The children were already in school, the mother was away and the father was working. They lost everything … At that time the social services relocated them to an unhealthy house … I was an employee of the Fougères club and I organized a collection of clothes, furniture, toys … It was from that day on that he was left a strong bond of friendship between the Camavinga family and myself. I remember that in the face of such a disaster, Camavingo's father told him: “You are the hope of our family.” And he was right.
“A fire destroyed everything his family had; his father told him:‘ you are our hope ”
Not at all, he is still the same one who wants to play for the simple fact of enjoying himself. I sincerely believe it. It is always available for a photo, a smile, an autograph …
Camavinga always wanted to be a footballer?
The truth is, no. He wanted to practice judo, like his brother. It was the mother who took the first step and took him, at the age of nine, to the Drapeau de Fougères district club. I was sick of him breaking things with the ball in the living room (laughs).
What surprised you the most about Camavinga when you trained him when you were 10 and 11 years old?
His ease with technical gestures was very natural. And his vision of the game was always one step ahead of the others. I still remember as if it were yesterday the regional championship final. We were 0-0 and there were five minutes left. I looked at him and told him to do it alone. He took the ball near our goal, dribbled almost the entire opposing team and ended up scoring a goal. Many around here still remember that moment. It was highly acclaimed. They updated their age category after that.
“He wanted to practice judo; it was the mother who brought him tired of breaking things with the ball”
How did Rennes manage to recruit him?
One day Mathieu Lescornet, who is now Julien Stephan's assistant coach, the current head coach, came to our facilities. So he was in charge of the football school at the Stade Rennais and he wanted Camavinga to go play a tournament. They signed it directly shortly after.
Are you still in contact with him?
I have a lot of phone contact with the father. We are in contact with Eduardo through my club. He is the godfather of the CF2L FOOT, which resulted from a merger of several clubs in the area, including the one he left, and at the end of last season, in the last training session, he surprised all the federated and appeared. He did it selflessly. He also usually sends us motivational videos.