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UEFA.com's weekly wonderkid: Alban Lafont

Published: Saturday 5 December 2015, 13.00CET
The youngest goalkeeper to appear in a Ligue 1 game, aged 16 years and 310 days, could Alban Lafont go on to emulate fellow Toulouse tyro Fabien Barthez?
by Marie-Océane Bayol & Nicolas Flèche
UEFA.com's weekly wonderkid: Alban Lafont
Alban Lafont becoming the youngest goalkeeper in Ligue 1 history ©Getty Images

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Published: Saturday 5 December 2015, 13.00CET

UEFA.com's weekly wonderkid: Alban Lafont

The youngest goalkeeper to appear in a Ligue 1 game, aged 16 years and 310 days, could Alban Lafont go on to emulate fellow Toulouse tyro Fabien Barthez?

At 16 years and 310 days, Toulouse's Alban Lafont last week became the youngest goalkeeper to feature in a Ligue 1 match, starting and helping his side to their first clean sheet since 18 April. Four days later he kept another. Meet UEFA.com's weekly wonderkid.

Name: Alban Lafont
Club: Toulouse
Debut: 28 November 2015 v OGC Nice
Position: goalkeeper
Nationality: French
Date of birth: 23 January 1999
Height: 191cm

They say …
"It was a bold move but it gave me the opportunity to wake up a squad that needed waking up. He had struggled in a friendly against Eibar, but that made him realise what was required to play at the highest level."
Toulouse coach Dominique Arribagé on handing Lafont his debut

"He's good with his feet. He can make two or three saves in quick succession or come out to claim dangerous crosses even if he's been quiet all game. That, for me, is what a top-class keeper is."
Bernard Diomède, France Under-17 coach

©Getty Images

Record-breaker Mickaël Landreau

Background ...
Born in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Lafont moved to France when he was nine. Having played five times for France's U16s – three as captain – he is now an established U17 international. Lafont has also swiftly ascended the Toulouse ranks, from youth team via reserves to senior selection. Unexpectedly given a first-team debut by Arribagé last week with TFC's established keepers off form, the teenager kept a clean sheet in a 2-0 home win against Nice.

Playing style …
Comfortable in the air and very composed, Lafont's presence reassures defenders – the shut-out against Nice was their first in over seven months. The history-maker was just 16 years and 310 days old – four days younger than Ligue 1's previous youngest custodian, Nice's Anthony Mandréa, who played as a substitute in November 2013.

Shades of …
Mickaël Landreau debuted for Nantes aged 17 years and 142 days in October 1996, keeping a clean sheet – and saving a penalty –  against Bastia. Lafont's precocious start has invited comparisons to Landreau, who chalked up a record 618 Ligue 1 outings in his 18-year career – plus eleven at senior level for France.

Eureka moment …
Fielding Lafont against Nice seemed an act of desperation, but the youngster never looked back after producing a fine save from Jérémy Pied with nine minutes on the clock. "It filled me with confidence for the rest of the game," he said afterwards.

Barthez on France's proud EURO history

Best-case scenario …
Maintaining his place in Arribagé's lineup is a huge ask for Lafont, yet if he can do that while continuing to progress with the national teams, the future is his. Toulouse have form with top-class glovesmen: Fabien Barthez began there and went on to win the UEFA Champions League with Marseille, domestic titles with Monaco and Manchester United, and the 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO 2000 with France.

He says …
"I am naturally calm and don't get carried away easily. [Making my debut so young] is not an end in itself. I need to keep working, have fun and train well."

Last updated: 05/12/15 12.48CET

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