After 10 years in Besançon, left winger Chloé Valentini (26), an Olympic champion with Les Bleues this summer, joined Metz to win her first French title. Interview with Le Quotidien du Sport and Handball magazine.
Have you found a traumatized Metz team after losing the French title they’ve held since 2016?
I only arrived at the end of August (due to the Olympics, editor’s note). So I didn’t prepare with the girls. But we also know when we lose, especially when we lose, like last season (beaten in the Champions League final, the French Cup semi-final and the Champions League quarter-final, editor’s note).
The team was clearly retaliatory. It’s never easy when you’ve won everything you’ve lost over the years, but we all want to win every possible title this year, starting with the French title.
Does losing the title make you hesitate if it’s finally here?
I didn’t ask myself this question. Losing can happen to anyone, in a very good tournament with a very good team. I made the right choice by joining Metz, who fights every year for the French title.
Coming to Metz is also about winning titles because you have won nothing at the club except the D2 title in 2015…
I have a good record with the French team (2021 Olympic champion, 2021 vice-world champion, 2020 European vice-champion, editor’s note), but today I want to have more at the club. I want to win the French Championship, the French Cup, why not the Champions League!
What was the biggest change in moving from Besançon to Metz?
Play every three days. In Besançon, I wasn’t used to it, except when we played the Euros two years ago. At Metz, there are a lot of videos, we play a lot, and we keep going.
What about the environment?
It’s a family club like Besançon with a lot of values and it works. After that, I don’t want to compare the two. I don’t want to discredit Besancon. just different…
…especially when it comes to clothing, because at Metz you play in a dress! (laughs) It’s weird at first, but you get used to it quickly.
“Before going abroad, I first wanted to take a step in France”
Emotionally, it’s obviously been difficult to leave Besançon after ten years of football.
It was hard for me at first because I was away from everything, my family, my friends… I was lucky my husband followed me and he later got a job here and it made things easier . He supported me in this new adventure. But of course it’s not easy. In ten years at ESB, you have your own pace of life, you get out of training, you go to meet your friends and so on. There, everything is new. I asked myself a lot of questions in the beginning, but I’ve settled in very well with the city and the club and it’s getting better.
The first game of the season was a certain Metz-Besançon…
As if by accident! (smiles) It’s always important to play against your old club. I’m also looking forward to this return game with my former supporters and seeing people again.
Apart from Metz, do you have any other contacts, for example abroad?
Before, I wasn’t ready to leave. Raphaëlle (Tervel) and Sandrine (Mario) are going well and they have made me improve a lot. There, Metz knocked on my door, the biggest club in France and one of the biggest in Europe. Before going abroad, I first wanted to take a step in France after Besançon.
You just renewed your contract with Metz for one year until 2023. Why only signed for one year in the first place?
I have a second year option. However, since I’ve never left Besancon, I want an emergency door. Also, I didn’t come alone. I ended up renewing for a second year without asking myself the question for too long. I’m starting to like myself, adapting to the team, the girls and the staff everything is fine. This extension is obvious.
After gold medal, Chloé Valentini looks for champion
Can Brest Metz be the first without a French club winning the Champions League in last season’s final?
We still have a lot of work to do, but I believe we can do it. We get along very well, we all have the same goals, and that can make a difference. I hope we can finish in the top two of the group to avoid reaching the 8th final to be able to recover and avoid another trip.
Is the Champions League really another level?
It’s really a level above the championships and mini-Europes that I was able to play in Besançon. Against Gyor, one of the most beautiful teams in Europe, at 1000 per hour, it brings a lot in terms of experience.
What will Messi’s leaders say in 2022: (only) to regain the French title, or will they set the bar a little higher?
WIN EVERYTHING! (laughs) I didn’t feel the pressure anyway. Metz is a big club with ambitions, which is normal. There are only great players here and we all want to win the French title, the French Cup and get to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
In the league, it’s a good start…
We won and we did our best for it. But when we saw Besanson beat Brest in Brest, everyone can beat everyone. So we prepare every game the same way because we don’t want to leave points on the way. With Covid, we don’t know how it will end. We don’t want to give our opponents anything, we don’t give them any points.
When you’re an Olympic champion, you definitely want to win your first French title. Exactly! France to be precise. Do you feel like you’ve become one of its executives?
I wouldn’t say frames. It’s a strong word, and I haven’t been on the team for long. I got there little by little, and I took up more and more space. It can also be seen on the pitch where I have more responsibility.