Passionate about football since he was 6 years old, Anatole Levallois, like many, dreamed of becoming a professional football player. Few, like him, have given themselves the means to succeed.
From secondary school, he learns about the possibility of combining studies and intensive training. A solution is essential: leave for the United States. “There you can study while continuing to play football at a high level. The two are linked, it’s not like in France, where if you want to get a big study you have to kill the sport. It was really an opportunity for me to grow on both counts.”
To achieve his American dream, Anatole must redouble his efforts. The year of his baccalaureate, he continues to train with his American Avranches club, passes the TOEFL [test d’aptitude en anglais, ndlr] as well as the SAT, the American Baccalaureate. His determination paid off: In March 2020, he enrolled at Pima Community College, an Arizona university, which offered him a scholarship.
“I risk dying on the pitch at any moment”
Unfortunately for the athlete, the Covid-19 comes on the scene. Far from being discouraged, Anatole continues his education with the hope of getting to college as soon as possible: “I train twice a day on my city’s field to maintain my physical fitness, with a view to leaving for the United States in the summer of 2020. I don’t know yet, but the US borders will close in August.”
Stranded in France, he decides to take some exams. There everything changes: “I have been told that I have a dilated aorta and that I have to stop playing football because I risk dying on the pitch at any moment. It is the ambitions, the dreams of several years that are crumbling today.”
The athlete needs several weeks to accept the news: “At first I say to myself, ‘Even if I have to die on the field, I’ll keep going.’ It may sound ridiculous, but you have to understand that football was a big part of my life.”
In December 2020, he decided to undergo surgery. The intervention is heavy: “It takes almost seven hours. We have to change my entire aorta to avoid sudden death.” After several days in the hospital and three weeks of rehabilitation, “learns to live again, to walk”, to speak too, because his vocal cords were damaged during the surgery. But the hardest part remains the mind: “I had devoted my whole life to this dream, and now it was no longer achievable. I didn’t know what to do with my life anymore.”
Between passion and resilience
In August 2021, Anatole, determined to return, decides to leave for the United States. There, the coach who recruited him offers him to join his team as an assistant coach. In this role, he is confronted with his dream, which has become inaccessible: “I immediately face the reality: I don’t play football anymore and I watch the players do what I’ve always dreamed of. It’s very complicated, but I keep going anyway, and I say it’s worth it.”
Over time, he acclimates to his new life and blossoms into his role as a coach: “I’ve had a crazy year. We’ve done a great job with the team and we’ve won the national tournament in our division. We’re champions of the United States. It’s crazy, it’s incredible feelings.”
But one reality stands out: “I am no longer a football player and I no longer have access to the scholarships that were offered to me as a player that allowed me to fund a large part of my studies. I work quite well so I was able to get academic scholarships, but it is very little compared with my university tuition.”
In an online pussy video, Anatole talks about his incredible journey. He hopes to raise the necessary funds to complete his studies in the United States, where he would like to become a football coach. “I think I can bring something to my players technically, but not only because training a team is also about transferring values. That’s what drives me today and allows me to pass on something different, to make my transition from player to coach.” †