What advice would a French legend offer her young team-mate, and how did their paths to the top differ?
Article top media content
Wendie Renard is a French sporting institution. Born on the island of Martinique, she followed her dream of becoming a footballer and moved to the French mainland aged 16. Since then, she has been capped more than 130 times. The defender, who turns 32 during Women's EURO 2022, has also lifted eight Women's Champions League trophies with trailblazers Olympique Lyonnais.
Sandy Baltimore is 22 and part of an exciting generation of French players which triumphed at the UEFA Women's Under-19 EURO in 2019. The Paris Saint-Germain forward is playing at her first major senior tournament.
Do you remember how you started playing football?
Renard: It was a long time ago! I started playing with boys from the age of seven and was also playing in the playground after school. We went to play like every child from a city does.Go on Sandy.
Baltimore: It was at school. I used to play with the boys. I was playing for fun and from the age of 11, I joined a club.
When did you think about becoming a professional player?
Baltimore: Honestly, I’ve always been saying it, since I was a child. Of course, when I said I wanted to become a professional footballer, I was told that it was impossible, that it wasn’t a real job, that it didn’t exist as a career choice. Besides, women’s football is not as well-known or as developed as men’s football. So, that’s all I ever heard but I always believed in myself and it is important to believe in your dreams so I continued.
Renard: Given that I am from Martinique, there was not as much visibility. I left my island at the age of 16 but I always knew from a young age that it was what I wanted to do. Even at school, I wrote it down as my first career choice, so I was convinced. Looking back on it today, I have a beautiful career. But at the age of eight, I never thought I would have the opportunity. As Sandy said, it is important to believe in your dreams, because if we don’t even believe in ourselves, then no one will believe in us.
Wendie, how does it feel to win trophies at the top level?
Renard: We tell ourselves that our dreams keep on coming true. I often say it but it’s what my sweat and blood and the sweat and blood for all of us goes into, so when you start a season with nothing and you end up with a trophy, there is nothing better. That is my motivation. That’s what I am always aiming for, I am a competitor and every time I am on the pitch, I want to win. So, it doesn’t matter what match it is. I want to win.
Baltimore: I won the U19 EURO. I will never forget that. We wanted to go all the way. We had achieved this goal and we were really proud of ourselves. Besides, it was my second competition with the youth team so I was really happy.
Renard: Unfortunately, with the French national team, I have been involved in tournaments but I’ve never won a big title. I’ve won a lot with my club but there is a difference between your club and country.
What does it mean to be playing at Women's EURO 2022?
Baltimore: We're proud.
Renard: It’s Sandy’s first big tournament, even though she has played in plenty of others with junior teams but it’s on another level. She is here because she has the right qualities and we are here as a squad, because we have the potential to represent our country and have an impact. We know England is a great footballing nation. The fans are really supportive. We know it’s going to be a great EURO. We’ll have to evolve together, so we can achieve the objective that we’ve always had, to go as far as possible.
Wendie, what advice would you give to Sandy for the rest of her career?
Renard: To always believe in herself. As she said, it’s important. On the pitch, she has the qualities to make an impact so there is no pressure. Always believe in your quality. There are always mistakes throughout your career and we need to stay united and strong and always remember where we’re from. It keeps us grounded and moving forward. But I have no doubt that she is smart and she has her feet firmly on the ground, so it will work out. She will have a nice career.
Finally, Sandy, what does Wendie’s career mean to you?
Baltimore: Honestly, she has had a great career. I’ll try to do the same, win a lot of titles and continue to progress. That's important and I’ll keep on working and learning every day.