Acrobatic World Champion
Some things look easier than they are. For example, when Alphonse makes one of his spectacular saves.
Or when the French national goalkeeper flies through the air in his six-yard box like a kung fu fighter and gives his eight-foot-high crossbar a kick, after which he is celebrated on social media for his agility and jumping skills.
“This Club has a place in my heart. I grew up here.”
From today’s perspective, it would not be presumptuous to say that Alphonse’s path to the Paris Saint-Germain goal was preordained. After all, he was born in the French capital and moved to PSG at the age of 13, returning as a 16-year-old after a year at the French football association’s training centre – to remain thereafter.
“The club isn’t just where I train, it has a place in my heart. I grew up here,” the tattooed keeper with Philippine roots said upon finally joining the professional squad.
After having made his début for Paris at 19, he went on loan in order to grow into the role of future first-choice keeper at the club. He went first to RC Lens, with whom he was promoted as the best second division goalkeeper in 2014, then to SC Bastia, and finally FC Villareal, in Spain’s Primera Division. Wherever Alphonse went he made the position between the posts his own due to his great reactions and his technical ability with the ball. A graduate of the French school.
Will and staying power
Alphonse passed through every French national youth team, with an early highlight coming in the summer of 2013. He was a member of the U20 team to win the World Cup when a 0:0 in the final against Uruguay ended 4:1 after penalties – with Alphonse in goal. The reward for his strong performances: As the third goalkeeper in the national team he celebrated the World Cup title in 2018, and had his début in the team at the age of 25 and a half.
At club level Alphonse also had to fight against strong competition for his place in goal. But he took up the challenge of this duel again and again. First with Kevin Trapp, who was ultimately loaned. And then with Gianluigi Buffon, the Italian goalkeeping legend.
Trainer Thomas Tuchel decided to put local matador Areola in pole position, because he wouldn’t give up the fight even if there were offers from abroad. “He came from the training centre. PSG is everything to him and he really wants to prove himself,” Tuchel reasoned at the time. A fitting description for his goalkeeper with the number 16 on his back.
In the end, Alphonse played more often that season than Buffon. Close before the end of the 2019/2020 transfer period Areola got moved within a spectacular goalkeeper swap between PSG and Real Madrid. The upcoming year on loan as a #madridista and the challenge to compete with Real’s starter Courtois will be the next one to face for Alphonse Areola. Let’s see how things come out when he will return to Paris.