Speaking exclusively to Football News, Ligue 2 side Tours’ captain Bryan Bergougnoux reveals his plans for the short and long term future and divulges his views on the current situation of his former club Lyon.
Born: 12th January 1983
Previous Clubs: Lyon, Toulouse, Lecce, Châteauroux (loan), AC Omonia (loan)
Current Club: Tours FC
You started your career with Olympique Lyonnais, in the youth academy. How would you sum up these formative years?
It was a very important period during my life. At the youth academy, you learn how to become a footballer but also how to become a man. I had some very good moments at Lyon because they club was really growing at that time and because we always had good results in the youth teams.
Do you think that Lyon has the best youth academy in France at the moment?
I don’t think it is even close. You just have to look at the youngsters coming out of the academy and the results that they are currently achieving with them. We can see players who came through the youth academy at Lyon now plying their trade across Europe, that shows that the academy is working well. It is for me one of the best in the world. Clearly the best in France at the moment. The others work, but not as well as Lyon’s.
You grew up with Lyon at a period during which they were playing the Champions League and winning several league titles. With the team that they had, did you think you made yourself a place among the greats?
I hoped so, in any case. I could not say that I was sure because at the time it was not like the situation now. There had always been this desire to make good young talent but the first team was still primarily based on signings from elsewhere, with some very good youngsters as well. It was my aim to be part of the latter category, but I was not certain of getting there. It is true that to have succeeded in playing for that team at that time, it was something enormous for me. I can be proud because it really was not easy to play in that group, at that time.
You have personally won three Ligue 1 titles and scored in a continental competition. Then, it is fair to say your career became a little harder to forge. Are you frustrated to have started playing at such a high level and then to be knocked back down again?
It is true that I started with the cherry before the cake. But I am appreciative of the career that I have had. There were high moments and low moments but I take it all, to enjoy playing now, to learn and to give back what I have learnt. Those are different things but I always enjoy myself because I love sport. I could play anywhere, any league any team and I would still manage to enjoy myself.
What have you learnt during this period?
A lot of things. At Lyon, I was always told that you need to have that competitive edge and spirit, to do things in a spontaneous way and not to enjoy yourself. Beautiful things are those that are done in the name of being effective. I try to get across this bunch of little details every day, that is my role at Tours.
Do you support Lyon President Jean Michel Aulas’ policy on youth?
I wholeheartedly support his position. After that, the strategy relies on having excellent youth coaches, something which is not always that easy everywhere else. The team has to be competitive despite this and that is where Lyon are really strong because apart from Nantes and Auxerre, we rarely see a team with so many players coming from the youth academy who performs so well. It is coming at the right time for them because they need to gain money and to spend little so that they can finance the new stadium. Once that is done, they can perhaps take up the policy again of having a balance between players coming from outside the club and from the youth academy, in the first team.
How do you explain the fact that you were not able to succeed at Lyon?
I don’t think I should have left Lyon for a club, I don’t want to say less good, but with less big ambitions like Toulouse, because it would have been better to remain in a certain circle of clubs or even at Lyon to play Champions League football. The type of game where you learn a lot of things. But Paul Le Guen was leaving the club and I absolutely wanted playing time and I made the decision to go to Toulouse, something that I do not regret.
Maybe I could have had a different trajectory. That’s life, it is like that, you should not have regrets and you should continue to advance wherever you are and whatever you are doing. I could have had a better career but I also could have had a worse one, so I am not complaining. I am happy to play football, it is nearly 14 years ago that I started so it is still great to be doing it.
What did you gain from your periods abroad, in Italy and in Cyprus respectively?
At Lecce, I learnt a lot on a tactical level and the constant expectation that it requires. I improved a lot tactically there thanks to a lot of things that we don’t really know in France and that they do in Italy, like the fact that they have football culture which is much more developed than ours. I saw a different way of working over there. In Cyprus, I learnt nothing but I really enjoyed myself because they had extraordinary fans.
What is the mood like surrounding Tours at the moment?
I feel quite good and so does my family. I have club responsibilities, I am asked to help the young players. We will see if I stay or not. It is more than feasible that I stay. We shall see if I extend my contract or not (his current deal runs out at the end of the season). I feel good here so it is a completely plausible possibility. We have started to talk about it, but there is no concrete offer yet. It will depend on the conditions in the contract that I am offered. I would like to sign a contract for at least three years so that I can really have a project at this club.
What type of project are you referring to?
It is clear that I would like to be a coach for the youth team to start with. One must not skip steps but I would like to learn to become a football manager. If a reconversion takes place at Tours, it would be in that role.