Interview. Football. From anonymous to revelation, Thomas Couillard changed everything in Hérouville

Thomas Couillard has largely contributed to changing the face of Hérouville this season, with his talent and his state of mind. ©Aline Chatel

Author of 12 goals this season, Thomas Couillard (25 years old) is the unexpected revelation of the Regional 2 championship. The leader from Hérouville, who had never played beyond Regional 3 during his very local career in Switzerland-Normandy, is delighted with his technical quality and his impeccable state of mind.

Thomas Couillard, passed by Pont d’Ouilly, Condé-sur-Noireau, Flers, Saint-Pierre-du-Regard, AS Suisse-Normande, La Selle La Forge, Thury-Harcourt and… the American University, has the face from Hérouville. Next Sunday, May 29, 2022 (3 pm) in Flers, he will try to confirm his excellent season.

The Hérouvillais play their last game with this reserve already condemned to the descent. For the last day, from which they are exempt, a win will secure them first place and the increase in Regional 1 that comes with it. Interview with a great discovery.

Thomas, how have the last two weeks been in Hérouville?

Thomas Couillard: There was the same intensity as usual during the training. For us, it’s a race like any other, even though we know there may be a climb at the end. There is no more pressure. We do not underestimate this Flers team. It is often the poorly classified teams that have caused us the most problems in this championship. We saw this especially at Bourguébus.

Are you eager to fight it out?

Yes, we are impatient to complete the beautiful course we have made and, I hope, to be rewarded for our season. It would be a shame to ruin everything now. We will be able to breathe because the season has been quite tough both physically and mentally. We always had the pressure of the first. It’s nice to be alive, but mentally it’s still tough.

Thomas Couillard made his name in Regional 2 and above this season.
Thomas Couillard made his name in Regional 2 and above this season. ©Aline Chatel

You’ve never cracked…

The only defeat we award is logical, against, in my view, the best team in the group with us (La Ferté Macé, editor’s note). What made all the difference this season was everyone getting themselves in the same frame of mind, pulling everyone in the same direction. We have a group that lives very well and that we enjoy together.

Parallel to the collective success, we recommend a real individual satisfaction.

I didn’t expect to do such a season in R2 at all, while it’s the first time I’ve tasted at this level. I need confidence to thrive and I got that through my teammates and especially Morgan (Ranguet, the coach). Since my return from the United States, I had not found the pleasure of training and playing football with a quality group.

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Why have you never played above Regional 3 before?

I wish I could explain it (laughs). It used to be more my family, my daughter, work… It didn’t really allow me to move around Caen and have more visibility. I hadn’t even thought of playing in R1 or N3. I really clicked last year. I wanted to see what I was worth.

What was the thought that led to this click?

I was in a relationship with my daughter’s mother and, as sometimes happens, I didn’t necessarily have the opportunity to train at the desired intensity. We’re divorced. I had more time and so I tried my luck at Hérouville. A year earlier, I had almost accepted Morgan’s proposal, but had pulled out at the last minute.

“Have no regrets”

Does this season offer new perspectives?

Yeah, obviously I’ll want to see something else then when the opportunity arises. I want to see how far it can take me. I’m 25, it’s still young. I have keys, but nothing concrete. I don’t want to waste any more years, but I don’t plan on skipping the steps either. I would at least like to try to go higher so as not to have any regrets. But today I am in Hérouville.

Thomas Couillard also imposes his physique in Regional 2.
Thomas Couillard also imposes his physique in Regional 2. ©Aline Chatel

How did you end up in the United States?

In the first last year, at AS Suisse-Normande, I received an email from a football agency to do scouting in Courbevoie in the presence of recruiters from American universities. I went there with a friend. It went well and a few months later I did a second test in Clairefontaine. I was the only one who came from Suisse Normande (smile), most players came from training centers. I had two offers. I was unable to attend the larger university of the two because I failed the TOEFL. The second, much smaller, offered to learn English there. It was Ohio Valley University. I left in 2017.

“This direct game suits me well”

Did you have in mind to leave?

I was in the perspective of discovering a new football, of discovering the country. I wanted to see if American university was like in the movies. I spent six months there and came back for romantic reasons. There is no regret to have. It was short but intense. I haven’t done many appearances on the field. At the football level it was perfect but I didn’t mix too much with the others because I didn’t really speak English. The coach blamed me a lot. Fortunately we were with five French. I was a roommate with one of them. Otherwise I would be completely lost!

How have you planned your return to football?

I was still a little outraged to return. I took over at La Selle La Forge with a friend of mine and a coach I knew well. There was a change of coach after that and things didn’t go well with the new one. This is why I went to Thury-Harcourt in R3. I then signed in Hérouville.

In Hérouville where you thrive much more than you could have imagined in the direct play of the team.

As 10 Morgan asks us to play very high. With the direct play we are always there when there is a central defender, we are always very close to the goal. It gives us a lot of chances to score and give assists. This is the first season I have scored so many goals. So this game suits me well. But I don’t think it will work in region 1…

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