The midfielder of OGC Nice, son of Lilian and brother of Marcus, was called up for the first time with the Blues, who face the Netherlands on Friday evening in the Euro 2024 qualifiers.
By Adrian Mathieu
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After the Hernandez siblings, Lucas and Theo, the France team has brought together two new brothers in the selection. Arrived Monday at Clairefontaine with wide smiles, Marcus and Khéphren Thuram know better than anyone the symbolic significance of the Blues. Born in 1997 and 2001 respectively, they saw their father Lilian be associated with the great history of this team. “It is an immense pride. I learned about his selection at the same time as him. I was happier than when I was first selected, ”said Marcus Thuram at a press conference, to welcome the presence of his little brother.
“He didn’t need to speak a lot to be considered a leader”
For the youngest Khéphren, this first call-up rewards a player who has never stopped progressing since his arrival in Nice in 2019. Passed by INF Clairefontaine and AS Monaco, the midfielder has energy to spare and arrives especially in a sector, the midfield, where the renewal continues for Didier Deschamps, with the always delicate physical states of Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté.
A concrete opportunity to seize therefore for the one who, younger, wore the colors of AC Boulogne-Billancourt for three seasons. Gilles Bibe, sports coordinator of the ACBB, remembers for Point of a Chephren Thuram who already had a head start as a teenager. “He was someone who could just see on the pitch, he didn’t need to run a lot because he had above-average quality of passing, he was very intelligent in his placement. He was considered a boss, one of his coaches had made him captain. Even though Khephren was a shy and reserved boy, he didn’t need to speak much to be considered a leader, he showed others the way through his technique and tactical IQ. »
The midfielder born in 2001 played matches on weekends with Boulogne-Billancourt and trained during the week with INF Clairefontaine, the prestigious French training center which notably hatched Thierry Henry, Kylian Mbappé or Blaise Matuidi. For Lilian Thuram, it was the ideal compromise, especially since his first son Marcus had followed the same path, straddling the 92 club and the main hopeful pole of French football.
Two sons in selection, “a crazy thing” for Lilian Thuram
“A good relationship had been established with the father, after this first conclusive experience with the club. Moreover, Khépren was considered as the brother of Marcus more than the son of his father Lilian. It was logical for them to continue the adventure in Boulogne with the youngest. From the moment I received Lilian, after being put in touch by a mutual friend, everything was done for the future: he was seduced by the project and the club’s facilities, they came from 16e arrondissement, their mother was in Neuilly, in relation to transport everything was easier”, adds Gilles Bibe.
And now the Ile-de-France club is using this success of the Thurams to affirm its status as a training team which can serve as a springboard for other talented players. “Some young people come specifically to do scouting here, because they know that the two Thurams went through our club, they left a very good image! I congratulated Lilian on this double summons, he told me that it was crazy and that he himself couldn’t believe it, ”confides the ACBB coordinator.
In the sights of PSG
After having played three professional matches at AS Monaco, it is especially on the side of Nice that Khéphren Thuram takes off. Launched by Patrick Vieira, guided by Christophe Galtier and revived by Didier Digard after a delicate first part of the season under Lucien Favre, the 21-year-old midfielder has become one of the best players in his position in Ligue 1.
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Beyond his name, which speaks to everyone in French football, could we predict such a trajectory for him, when PSG and the Premier League are keenly interested in him for the next season? “Obviously, it would be a lie to say that we saw him have an international destiny from the age of 14, says Gilles Bibe with a smile. On the other hand, when we compared the two, even if they did not evolve in the same position, I found a little something more in Khéphren, on the tactical and technical level. Marcus was more instinctive. If I had to take a bet, I would have said Chephren! But the hard work eventually paid off for both and I’m so glad! »
Expected replacements this Friday evening to face the Netherlands in the Euro qualifiers (8:45 p.m.), the two Thuram brothers will appreciate whatever happens to be together at the Stade de France. Their father, with his 142 selections, will be no less proud.