Hugo Lloris grows into sweeping success for Spurs after biding time

Forward-thinking keeper has played a big part in Tottenham's recent rise

Hugo Lloris readily admits it. He's never exactly been backwards about coming forward.

"Since my professional debut I've always had a risky game. I try to control my box. I always think the goalkeeper has to be the chief of the box. It's his area and he has to defend it."

With such an assured mission statement, it is remarkable to think Lloris's position was the root of so much uncertainty at Tottenham just over a year ago. A £12.3m signing from Lyon, the France captain could not initially dislodge Brad Friedel. It was the first controversy of Andre Villas-Boas's tenure.

Since then, Lloris has more than taken command of the role, and he's done so by completely taking command of his area. The 26-year-old's willingness to come off his line to sweep is one of the most distinctive parts of his game.

A thoroughly modern goalkeeper, his play illustrates the evolution of the modern Tottenham. The team play a higher line than last season's counter-attacking side, and a higher line than even Lloris has experienced before. His forward-thinking fits perfectly.

"We have a philosophy which helps us to control the game. We want to have possession of the ball and for that we try to play very high and to keep the ball on the opponents' side. Sometimes you need to take some risks and in the course of a season maybe you can lose one, two or three games because of counter-attacks but it's a good way for us to play because we have the players to play that system.

"The manager has this philosophy and Tottenham has for a long time had the philosophy of trying to play well so all the fans are happy with it."

That's not to say the fans haven't endured some tension, particularly in the seventh minute of the 1-0 win over Cardiff City when Lloris seemed fortunate not to be sent off for a handball outside the box. Controversies like that come with the territory.

Yet, for a goalkeeper so willing to play right on the line, Lloris seems quite reserved as he sits at Tottenham's training complex. Quietly spoken, he works hard to find an errant word in English, rather than more easily resort to French. It is hard to square that politeness with the abrasive goalkeeper. "We have different personalities on and off the pitch. I'm very relaxed."

Lloris insists he was always relaxed about his initial wait to play behind Friedel. "Honestly, I never had doubts," he said. "I think the manager has his idea last season and he has another today. Football is always changing and improving. The good thing is that contact with Brad has been good since the beginning."

Some at Spurs maintain the only reason Lloris was first kept in reserve was because Villas-Boas wanted him to adjust to the physicality of the English game in training, the bodies crashing into him at crosses. The goalkeeper admits there is "more contact".

"In France and Europe the goalkeeper is more protected by referees... there is still a difference between the feeling in Europe and in the Premier League."

At the same time, it was Lloris's early familiarity with English football – and fascination with one club – that both prepared him for the ball-playing aspect of his game and set him on his career path.

"I started to discover the goalkeeper position with Peter Schmeichel because I was a fan of Eric Cantona and therefore [Manchester] United. Schmeichel was unbelievable. He had a big presence in the box. After that, there was Fabian Barthez, Iker Casillas, [Gigi] Buffon. It's important to have personality and be respected in your box and in your life."

Early in his life at Nice, Lloris tried to be like Cantona. "I was a striker and goalkeeper. When you are young, you are fascinated only by defending goals or scoring goals.

"The coach saw straight away I was ready to be a goalkeeper because I was ready to catch balls. I started at seven. I was playing outfield when I was nine or 10, I went to the Nice academy when I was 11 [as a goalkeeper]."

Lloris admits his mother once brought him home a Manchester United scarf and jokes that a mischievous story might be made out of that in the English press, but he has now come to love the competitiveness of the English game.

"When you play a European game, sometimes you can say 'today we'll just control the game and win' because there are big gaps between teams, but that is impossible in the Premier League because here every team can beat the other team."

Tottenham certainly experienced that in their last game, with the 3-0 home defeat to West Ham United that so checked their fine start. Lloris insists the team have learned a lesson ahead of today's awkward trip to Aston Villa.

"Since the beginning of the season we have played a good game, with a lot of short passes and offensive football," he said. "We've created a lot of scoring opportunities but against West Ham we showed the opposite face. We didn't create a lot, we played very slowly. "West Ham put us in trouble, they played a good game. We didn't play in that game and we don't want to live that again. We want to win every game and not have regrets." Lloris, as he has proved, is certainly someone who looks forward.

Follow all today’s action from the Premier League by CLICKING HERE

Premier League Live
footballLIVE Follow all the Premier League action as it happens
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + echSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
James Argent from Towie is missing, police say
peopleTV star had been reported missing
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone