Champions League: “I would never have thought of returning to Paris as an opponent”, says Abalo

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The privileged people who will cross the barrier gestures to enter the Pierre-de-Coubertin stadium this Thursday evening (kick off at 8:45 p.m., live on BeIN Sport) will recognize and say thank you to number 19 worn by a player from the Norwegian club d ‘Elverum. Here, this monument is at home: he played hundreds of matches between 2012 and 2020, winning the trifle of 7 French league titles before discreetly leaving for other horizons during confinement. He headed for Scandinavia to finish an extraordinary career. His name is Luc Abalo and he is at the head of one of the most prestigious awards in French sport.

How do you feel when you come back to Paris?

LUC ABALO. Honestly not much as I have only been gone 5 weeks. If I had been gone longer, it would make me weird but I stayed all summer in Paris as during the entire confinement and I have not yet had time to miss it. This lack will come, maybe, I don’t know yet.

Does seeing all your former partners already give you any particular emotion?

I haven’t thought about it since I left. Frankly, I prepared for this match as if it was a match like any other without thinking about the guys in front. We are playing against a team that is supposed to be stronger than ours, which is favorite and which plays at home. I don’t have such a different feeling than when we played in Porto at the start of the season.

You should all the same expect a special welcome …

I don’t know and that’s why I don’t want to make a movie. If it is, we will be told before kick-off that the match is played behind closed doors. With this Covid, it’s hard to think of things in advance.

How do you adapt to Norwegian life?

Everything is fine, but I don’t have time to do much, still because of this virus. When you travel you always have to take tests and you cannot leave until you have the result. Since I arrived, I mainly work my English on my own at home and in the gym, I also learn new tactical movements. I’m actually at home or in the gym and haven’t had a chance to visit Elverum yet.

When your name is Luc Abalo, do you still learn tactical movements?

All the teams play differently and if you want to play with the collective you have to play certain tactics. In handball, this is called the “interlocking” specific to each team. It is the collective game of Elverum that I am learning, not the individual game. And whether my name is Luc Abalo or not does not change anything.

When you arrived in early December, the club’s fans gave you a triumphant welcome …

It was very very nice and surprising. I did not expect that. I’m really happy because it shows that the club wants to do something and that it shows an interest in my coming. It really motivated me.

What is your desire on the occasion of your reunion with PSG?

Winning, of course. PSG had a complicated start to the Champions League (2 defeats in 2 games) and I hope for us that it will last another evening even if I also wish the best to this club which is dear to me. We must take advantage of this state of affairs: we have nothing to lose and we are a team that comes to do …

Have you had exchanges in recent days with your former teammates?

We are asked all the time this kind of question when there is a reunion, we are asked if we are sleeping between us (smile). Never ! We always stay cool with our friends …

We weren’t thinking of rooming up but just checking in with each other …

So there yes. Two weeks ago Niko (Karabatic) called me to check on me but we haven’t talked about the match. We’ve been teammates for a long time and when we hear from you, it’s nice. Lots of people like my former coach at Ivry Stéphane Imbratta are also calling me. It intrigues them to know how we work in Norway and how I feel there. And that’s cool.

Do you know the changing room of the visiting team in Coubertin?

Yes, I knew him when I came with Ivry. At the time, PSG was with Canal +. It proves that I’ve been here for a long time. I never imagined coming to play in Paris when I was still Ivry and never after spending so much time at PSG. Honestly, I never thought I would come back one day as an opponent.

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