PH pride: World Cup champion France’s goalkeeper is Filipino
Two world-class Filipino athletes brought pride to the Philippines on July 15: Senator Manny Pacquiao who scored a knockout win to claim the WBA welterweight title and Alphonse Areola, one of the three goalkeepers of France, the 2018 World Cup champions.
Moments after France’s national soccer team “Les Bleus,” officially called Paris Saint-Germain-Chambly (PSG), was crowned world champion, Alphonse tweeted: “KEEP CALM! The World Cup is here! CHAMPION DU MONDE!”
— Alphonse Areola (@AreolaOfficiel) July 15, 2018
Alphonse was born in Paris to Filipino parents on February 27, 1993. He is the third child among four siblings.
Alphonse, 25, is married to Filipino-Lebanese Marrion Valette Areola, with whom he has two young daughters: Aymma-Lyse and Ayleen-Grace.
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Alphonse started playing football at the age of seven when he joined the soccer club of “Little Angels,” the Entente Sportive des Petits Anges of the 7th (ESPA 7), located at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.
The 6’4” goalkeeper started out as a field player but when he substituted for their club’s goalkeeper, he realized that it was the position that he really liked.
At 16 years old, he became the youngest goalkeeper to sign a professional contract with PSG.
Alphonse has represented France in various world competitions and has won the World Cup for the country twice: the first was when France won FIFA U-20 (Under 20 years old) World Cup in 2013, and the 2018 FIFA World Cup championship that the team won on Sunday.
Alphonse’s first professional match happened on May 18, 2013 when he played for RC Lens Club. Less than a year later, on May 11, 2014, he was voted Best League Goalkeeper.
By 2016, Alphonse was playing for the elite Champions League. He joined the Villarreal club in Spain. This is a small family club located in Castellon, Valencia, but is rated as one of the best in La Liga.
With Villareal, he became the holder of best club record of not letting a single goal pass through his cage for 620 consecutive minutes of playing time.
After his stint in Villareal, Alphonse returned to PSG in 2016 and he still plays for the club at present.
When Alphonse started playing in 2000, it had only been two years since France bagged its first World Cup championship in 1998.
The historic win of France’s multicultural national soccer team that year spiked an interest in soccer among the French.
CNN reported that 1.5 million people gathered at France’s famous shopping district, Paris’ Champs-Élysées, to celebrate the win of France’s national soccer team, nicknamed then as “The Rainbow Team” with players from different parts of the world.
This year, Alphonse is one of France’s several national players who come from immigrant families.
LA Times reported that 16 of France’s 23 national players this year came from countries like Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Congo, Germany, Morocco, Portugal, and Zaire.
Kylian Mbappe, the sensational 19-year-old who scored two goals in France’s finals battle against Croatia, is part Cameroonian, part Algerian.
Midfielder Blaise Matuidi, born in France to African parents, said, “The diversity of the squad is in the image of this beautiful country that is France.”
On his website, Alphonse said, “All alone we go faster, together we go further!”
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