March 26, 2023

Years of chomping at the bit, then a meteoric rise from the English D2 to the Blues in less than a year: here is the trajectory of Brice Samba, Lens goalkeeper who will discover the France team after the reception of Angers on Saturday (9:00 p.m. ) during the 28th day of Ligue 1.

“There is everything that speaks for him,” justified Didier Deschamps Thursday at a press conference, a few minutes after announcing the Lensois’ first call-up, for the reception of the Netherlands on March 24 then a trip to Ireland on the 27th.

“I’m going to take a good look at this list, I hope to be there,” warned Brice Samba in early March, at a press conference. His performances this season as the last bulwark of the best defense in L1 and his ease with the ball allowed him to be preferred to Alban Lafont, the Nantes goalkeeper.

At almost 29 years old, however, the blood and gold porter could have thought his time was over. Next week, at Clairefontaine, he will almost act as a veteran in the locker room, only four players being older than him in the list of 23 revealed by “DD”.

It must be said that Brice Samba, if he is today indisputable in the Lensoise cages, first took his time. In the summer of 2018, at the age of 24, he only had around twenty professional matches to his credit in the jerseys of Le Havre, Marseille, Nancy and Caen.

It was then that his career finally took off. Rémy Vercoutre, for whom he was the understudy in the Caen cages, hangs up his crampons. Samba is promoted to N.1.

– “A higher dimension” –

A season that ended in relegation to Ligue 2, pushing Samba to leave Normandy. At the dawn of the 2019/2020 season, he settled in Nottingham Forest, in English D2, where he immediately became a starter.

Three years later, while Nottingham Forest has just obtained its promotion to the Premier League, Samba cannot resist the sirens of Lens, which has just finished in a good seventh place in Ligue 1.

The native of Linzolo, Congo, although unknown to the general public at the time, Lens was immediately aware of having made a big blow. “When he signed with us, we had knowledge of the goalkeeper which allowed us to say that, perhaps at some point, it would be a goalkeeper who would have the potential to be in the France team”, recalled the coach. artesian, Franck Haise, Thursday in front of the press. “He is a goalkeeper who is mature today, he has taken on a higher dimension with the club”.

With his new doorman, Lens quickly climbed into the top tier of Ligue 1. And Brice Samba became one of Bollaert’s new darlings.

If Lens has conceded only 21 goals in 27 days, three less than Nice and five less than Paris SG, it is largely thanks to its goalkeeper, author of some spectacular parades with one hand.

So much so that after the derby against Lille (1-1), at the beginning of March, his performances were praised by his counterpart at the Mastiffs, Lucas Chevalier: “Without him, Lens is not in this place (.. .) He is a top goalkeeper in Ligue 1”.

“Frankly, he deserves to be in the three (goalkeepers in the France team)”, had then judged Chevalier. Merit was rewarded.

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