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Presnel Kimpembe with the France team against Sweden in the League of Nations on September 5, 2020 in Solna / AFP / Archives

“To be a leader, there is no age,” says Presnel Kimpembe in an interview with AFP where the 25-year-old defender talks about his status in the France team, his links with the Parisian “titis” of the Blues and his character of “extrovert” who “likes pressure”.

Q: In Clairefontaine, you meet your friends who were trained at Paris SG, Kingsley Coman, Mike Maignan and Adrien Rabiot. Ten years ago, would you have imagined that?

A: “I would say no. We used to laugh about it, mess around and think we were going to play against each other or all together. But we didn’t necessarily think about it. We are not going to say that chance does things well, but we have all worked a lot to get there. It is important to us. To find itself ten years later in selection, it shows that the 1995-1996 generation is strong. That’s nice to look at.”

Presnel Kimpembe speaks to Kingsley Coman in the stands during a 2018 World Cup qualifying match against the Netherlands on October 10, 2016 in Amsterdam / AFP / Archives

A: “Of course. But Mike and Adrien too. We are men and we lived most of our youth together. Mike and Adri, we’ve known each other since we were 12 or 13 years old. With Kingsley, it’s a little longer: we’ve been together since we were 8 or 9 years old. We had the chance to grow up together, to exchange intimate moments. We are like brothers, we meet here and it’s wonderful. ”

Q: It seems you were sharing a room with him. Did he cook for you?

A: “(Laughs) Yeah, it was a bit like that. He made the food and I was the one who tidied up, who did a little housework. It was good times. We helped each other and that got us here today. ”

A: “We call each other often, we write to each other often. We also have the chance to see each other, we go on vacation together. And him, as soon as he returns to Paris, he comes home! ”

Q: You discovered the French youth teams finally quite late, in 2015. Was that when your ambition materialized?

A: “Obviously, when we taste it a little bit… It’s our passion, even if we don’t always immediately think of the professional world and at the highest level. By being able to rub shoulders with them on a daily basis, we realize that there may be an opportunity. It’s something that came over time, but you had to gain experience and confidence to be able to think about it. ”

Presnel Kimpembe, first from left, on the bench of the France team during the semi-final of the World Cup against Belgium on July 10, 2018 in Saint Petersburg / AFP / Archives

A: “Of course. Even if I was a replacement, I think we all have our little part of the responsibility. I’m quite an extrovert, who likes to reach out to others, who creates bonds and I think my role at the time was a little bit like that. Even if like everyone else, I would have liked to do more, it taught me to grow, it forged even more the mind that I already have. “

Q: At PSG, you are the locker room big brother. But in the French team, there are already plenty of big brothers. How do you deal with this gap?

A: “I wouldn’t say there is a gap. Everyone knows what to do and what to say. To be a leader, there is no age. But it is true that here, it is also necessary to know how to respect the statutes of each one, the experience of each one. Steve (Mandanda), for example, he’s a leader of this team, he’s an alumnus. I call him uncle! ”

Presnel Kimpembe has fun with Clément Lenglet during a training session for the France team in Clairefontaine on May 30, 2021 / AFP

A: “I think so. Me, I put the atmosphere a little bit we will say, when there is a need to lower the pressure. I am someone who likes the pressure, who likes it when it is a little hot. Afterwards, there are people like Hugo (Lloris, editor’s note) who are a little more relaxed. When we have to calm things down, he will be there to tell us. “

Q: Your angry tackle on Burak Yilmaz at the end of the race, injuring you in the action, is the image of your season. Is it this kind of gesture that makes you vibrate the most?

A: “For a defender, this kind of action is the pinnacle, the best of the best. You prevent a goal with several opponents in front, so necessarily, that’s what makes us vibrate, shine. Like when an attacker scores a goal. It’s something fantastic. ”

A: “Not just the trio! The France team in itself, it is very scary. But that’s what’s on paper. It will be up to us to show our talent and also to show what we are worth on the field. “

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