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LAFC goalkeeper Hugo Lloris embracing his next chapter – Daily News

LOS ANGELES — Hugo Lloris spent 11 years playing soccer in London prior to joining the Los Angeles Football Club at the end of December.

During his celebrated run with Tottenham Hotspur, the World Cup-winning goalkeeper never had a press conference postponed because of rain.

But on Feb. 5, when LAFC was scheduled to introduce Lloris and some of his new teammates, Southern California was drenched by a record-setting winter storm.

The retired French national team captain laughed a bit when LAFC explained why the first media availability of his U.S. adventure had been pushed off until Valentine’s Day.

“It rains more in England but it’s not as strong as it was [during the storm],” Lloris said Wednesday. “It’s different.”

For one of the world’s most successful goalkeepers, different is to be expected as he transitions to a new chapter of his life and playing career in the U.S. with Major League Soccer.

Culture. Environment. Continents. Teammates. Supporters. Expectations. All different.

Fielding questions at the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown – along with midfielder Eduard Atuesta, forward Tomás Ángel and defender Omar Campos – Lloris, 37, said he arrived at this late stage of his playing career desiring new experiences for himself, his wife and three children.

It’s been an admittedly small sample size, but in recent weeks the two-time FIFA World Cup finalist, a champion as captain of France in 2018, believes he found what he was looking for.

LAFC’s preseason began on Jan. 21, and a recent weeklong excursion with the club to Coachella for training and a pair of exhibition matches illustrates what Lloris means.

In Europe, training camp felt like a bubble. Stuck in a hotel, there is a singular focus. But with LAFC, in addition to getting down to business, of course, there was a freedom he had not known, whether it was a golf excursion with teammates or setting up dinner plans.

The afternoon golf was as valuable as a month spent sharing a locker room, he said. Joining a team in which he’s not the established leader – over the past six years those duties belonged to Carlos Vela, who remains an unsigned free agent as the season approaches – Lloris said that’s not something he needs, and if it happens it needs to be organic.

“Wearing an armband doesn’t change the way I am,” Lloris explained. “This has never been a motivation in my career.”

LAFC co-president and general manager John Thorrington noted that during Lloris’ short spell with LAFC he already witnessed moments of the leadership prowess that defined the goalkeeper’s time with the French national team and the Premier League.

“It’s rare that an MLS team, and a team in general, is able to sign a World Cup-winning captain,” Thorrington said. “And it did not take long for me and for us as a club to see exactly why Hugo has had the success he has had.”

After fielding offers from teams in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the MLS, Lloris described the decision to join LAFC as an easy one despite contractual terms that paid a player of his stature well below market value, agreeing to a one-year deal with club options for 2025 and 2026.

Having lost his starting spot with Tottenham, Lloris said he wanted to be honest with himself after knowing nothing but the highest level of professional soccer. At some point, he reconciled, it was best to drop the level of competition, maintain his quality as best as he could, and play.

“The only way I enjoy football is to be on the field and be part of the team,” he said, “so I was looking for the perfect project.”

The same had been true for other soccer greats such as Vela, Giorgio Chiellini and Gareth Bale, who for their own reasons all decided that LAFC was the right move.

“When Carlos Vela signed with the club in the beginning of the club history, LAFC became worldwide famous,” Lloris said. “When you add Giorgio and Gareth, and, because I’m French, Denis [Bouanga]it’s like, ‘Oh, this club is really interesting.’ And also they won very fast. So I started to follow their season.”

When it was clear that LAFC could not re-sign Maxime Crepeau, the Canadian goalkeeper who became a club legend during the 2022 MLS Cup final, they approached Lloris, who had made it known he was prepared to depart Tottenham.

“I think if I didn’t get this opportunity, probably later in life I would regret it,” said Lloris, 10 days away from his expected MLS debut in the season opener against the Seattle Sounders at BMO Stadium.

From left, LAFC general manager John Thorrington sits alongside four of the team’s new additions – midfielder Eduard Atuesta, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, forward Tomás Ángel and defender Omar Campos – during an introductory press conference on Wednesday at the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown. (Photo courtesy of LAFC)

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