At the age of 37, the emblematic former captain of Sporting Club de Bastia ends his football career. The Corsican RC Lens player announced this on Tuesday via his Twitter account.
“I felt like I was on the limit. So now is the right time to stop.” After more than 17 years in the professional world, Yannick Cahuzac has decided to end his playing career. The 37-year-old RC Lens midfielder will put on his crampons for the last time on May 21 for the Monaco reception in Bollaert. The epilogue of a long football adventure started at the age of 5 with Gazélec in Ajaccio before moving on to the other side of Vizzavona.
Landed at the Sporting training center at the age of 15, in the shadow of a grandfather who had marked the history of the SCB, the grandson of Pierre Cahuzac will later become the captain and the door flag of a club in which he will remain for 17 years. With the blue jersey he discovered the professional world in 2005 and then experienced the best moments of his career. The most painful too.
He left for Toulouse after Sporting’s descent into hell in 2017, and for Lens two years later he was able to prove that he could “exist” beyond his island, which he never thought he would ever leave. It is therefore with the “blood and gold” tunic on his back that the native of Ajaccio is about to bow.
For France 3 Corse ViaStella, he goes back to the reasons that motivated this “decision not easy to makeAnd casts his gaze over his entire journey. Interview.
France 3 Corse: After 17 years in the professional fold, you are hanging up your crampons at the age of 37. A difficult decision?
It wasn’t easy to take, but I didn’t want to do too much for the year. This season was physically more difficult for me. At some point, when the legs stop following, it becomes difficult. Mentally I wanted to continue. But the physical plays on the mental and it got complicated…
Did you feel like your body was no longer following?
It had been difficult for several years. However, until then I have always managed to compensate with something else. But the more the years pass, the more we feel their weight in the legs, especially in terms of pain. Every day, in training, it got harder and harder. There are also young people pushing behind. Despite this, I still feel good, but I didn’t want to end up with an injury. There are mornings when I wake up feeling great, but there are many others when I wake up with a new pain that seems like I didn’t know. I don’t want to pull the rope too much and there I felt I was on the limit. So now is the right time to stop.
You also played less this season. Did that influence your decision as well?
Almost my entire career I’ve had the chance to play as a starter. That was less the case this year. Even though I’m 37, we’re here to play football. Inevitably, if you play less, it’s always complicated. In addition, returning during the match or playing every two or three matches became difficult, especially in terms of level. If I continued, I also had to be able to react present on the ground. And I had a feeling it was starting to get complicated. I don’t want to be a hindrance to the team, I would take it too much. These various reasons led me to quit.
Since 2005 you have played more than 450 professional matches. Did the boy who grew up in Ajaccio, in Parc Berthault, think that he would achieve such a long way in football?
I never thought I could play so many games, have this career, experience so many emotions and share so many great moments with my teammates, my friends and my family. I feel really privileged to have been able to experience all of this. There is also a lot of pride to have lived all these moments. Football has always been my passion. I fell into it young and had the chance to turn my passion into my job. I was privileged there too.
You come from a family of “footballers”, with a grandfather who marked Corsican football. Despite everything, there was never any pressure from the family to pursue a career in football…
Absolute. School was the most important thing for my parents. The sine qua non for me to continue in football was to get my baccalaureate degree. What have I done. It was also my leitmotiv to make my parents proud at school level. Once I got my baccalaureate, they gave me the opportunity to make football my profession.
During your career you have often worn the captain’s armband. You were a leader on the field, but a calm man off it. How to explain this double facet?
It is true that it is a paradox. In life I am introverted and on the ground I transform. I’m going to be a competitor and maybe it’s this side that takes over because I really want to win. It helped me, but it played me a lot of bad tricks.
Did this image of the aggressive player taking a lot of cards bother you?
It’s not something I’m most proud of when people talk about me for the cards instead of my game. In retrospect I can’t deny it. It’s not pride, but it’s part of my career. At Bastia I had the club in me so much that I had an excess of emotion. I wanted to make up for the team’s lack of aggressiveness or resources on my own. Which of course is not feasible. It was detrimental to me, to the team. Then, afterwards, I took less boxes. We learn at any age and we mature. It’s true that it took me quite a few years to get to that level (smile).
Of all these stadium memories, which one is the most beautiful?
(He looks up). I have wonderful, especially with Bastia: the National title against Créteil (in 2011) at home remains a magical moment. We were under pressure all season; we absolutely had to go up or the club would disappear. This includes the turnout in Ligue 1 in 2012. In 2015, the final of the Coupe de la Ligue against PSG will remain a fond memory, even if we lost it. After, in Lens, I remember the rise in Ligue 1 and the return of the derby after Lille. These are great moments that we experience with our supporters and they are remarkable.
On the regret side, we imagine that in 2017 there will be Sporting’s descent into hell …
Yes. It remains one of my biggest regrets and also my biggest disappointment. There was also the descent from Ligue 2 to National in 2010, which was hard to live with. But in 2017, at the age of 32, it hurt me very much to leave the club on administrative relegation after spending 17 years of my life there. Almost seeing the club disappear was the hardest moment of my career.
Would you have stayed in Bastia until the end without it?
Yes. If we had stayed in Ligue 2 or National I would have stayed. I had my family there, 32 years old, I still wanted to pursue my passion at the highest level. As long as the club was professional, I stayed. As an amateur it was different. I still had the desire and the legs to continue as a pro.
“The next step for me will be in football. I have started testing to get my trainer’s diploma.”
Your departure somehow proved that you could find a place for yourself elsewhere than in Bastia…
Fully. That was also my common thread. When I was in Bastia I often heard people say “Cahuzac plays because it’s Cahuzac or it’s Bastia”. When I left for Toulouse, I made it my goal to force myself somewhere other than Sporting. It was one of my pride that I was able to get there, even if it was a bit difficult, especially in Toulouse. Looking back, it was rewarding and enriching on a sporting and human level to have been able to exist elsewhere than in Bastia.
Where is your future now that you are no longer playing? In Corsica, on the mainland? Still in football?
I don’t know where I will be yet, but one thing is for sure, the rest will be in football for me. I started taking tests to get my coaching diploma. I want to continue there. I’ve been asking myself this question for a while now. I’ve met great coaches who passed their fiber to me and I want to get started, try and give myself all the resources to get there.
When you graduate, is a return to Sporting possible in the coming years?
That would be fantastic! After that, it’s up to me to give myself the means to get my degree. Because it’s not because we were a footballer that we will necessarily be a coach. It’s up to me to work on this.