Captain of his country for more than a decade, Hugo Lloris will make French national team history on Saturday when he leads the World Cup holders into their quarter-final clash with England, tasked with shutting out his friend and club colleague Harry Kane.
Lloris and England captain Kane have been teammates at Tottenham since 2013, but by then the goalkeeper was already well established as France skipper having first been given the armband by Laurent Blanc in a friendly against the English in November 2010.
That came not long after France’s disastrous World Cup campaign in South Africa, and 12 years on Lloris will win a French record 143rd cap against England at Al Bayt Stadium, overtaking previous record holder Lilian Thuram.
“To achieve that in a career and to stay at the very highest level for 10 to 12 years while hardly ever being injured shows how consistent he has been,” said France assistant coach Guy Stephan this week.
Lloris turns 36 this month and has changed a lot since first becoming captain at international level while playing club football for Lyon.
He has since been on the losing side in a European Championship final before lifting the World Cup four years ago in Russia.
“I have evolved naturally. I think I am very different now to the boy I was at 23, when I was given the armband for the first time,” he told AFP shortly before coming to Qatar.
His presence now is reassuring for coach Didier Deschamps, especially as most of the defence in front of him has changed since 2018, partly due to injuries -– Raphael Varane is the only member of the starting line-up in Russia who is expected to start against England.
Varane has hailed Lloris as a calming influence, even if the statistics suggest he is no longer as reliable as he once was.
Analysis by Opta has shown Lloris has saved just 40 percent of the shots he has faced at this World Cup, down from 67 percent in 2018.