After an enforced period of absence, we’re back in the print world, bigger and better than ever, with a new special edition publication – ‘SoccerBible Volumes’. And covering the inaugural Summer ‘21 ‘Utopia’ edition is Barcelona and France star Antoine Griezmann, who we spoke with in depth on a range of topics, from the importance of family and friends, to reaching the heights that he has.

Antoine Griezmann has created moments, made memories and championed the world. He has grafted and grown towards greatness and in doing so become the master of his own making. Taking the world by storm and ensuring the ride is a fun one along the way, he is a humble hero as well as an iconic inspiration, and the perfect cover star for SoccerBible Volumes – Summer '21 'Utopia' Edition.

It’s in Barcelona where he takes a solitary spray can and we invite him to write something on a blank canvas. He could choose any message, any simple sentence to share with the world. He begins spraying. Leaving his mark, it’s empowering and pure from the playmaker. He wants you to know that this world is yours.

On a human level, how would you describe the place where you find yourself mentally right now. What makes this moment in your life great for you?

At the family level, I am filled with joy. We just had a newborn baby girl (smiles). I am extremely happy. We are enjoying this moment. Professionally, we are working hard. We go hard.

It’s been a strange couple of years but regardless of the pandemic, your rise in your career over the last decade has been monumental, what in your character has helped you get to where you have?

I like to enjoy playing football. I also want to feel that my teammates and coach can trust me. So, I can be myself and give my best on the pitch. It is not easy when you change clubs. I stayed at the Atletico for five years. When you go to another club, you are leaving behind your friendship with the coach and with the teammates. When you arrive in a new club, you need a period of adaptation. The game style is also different. However, I always try to have fun on the pitch. That way I can be 100 percent myself and give my best.  

We work hard every day, but I need to enjoy the game while playing. I need to be happy to get up in the morning to see my teammates. I don’t believe that I would have had this career otherwise. 

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People around you can often be a symbol of your success, can you tell us about how much family means to you?

It might sound silly to say, but I know that I will always have my parents, my brother, and my sister to support me no matter what, through successes or defeats. I also have three children and a wonderful wife. This helps a lot in everyday life. They are doing everything to help me focus on football. I have the best family to get to this level of success professionally and personally. 

The family you have, those relationships with your closest friends, is that greatness personified for you? Talking about success – how do you personally measure success?

I am proud of what I have achieved so far. I know I still have things to do and to go get. But, if everything stops now, I will be proud of my achievements. It is true that I have lost two big finals: the Euro and the Champions League. I felt so bad about it. There is also The World Cup, which is a big deal, and all the individual awards … But I hope I will be able to receive and lift some more trophies.

Firstly on the pitch, but off it too – what achievements really mean the most to you?

On the pitch, I think my numbers were good when I was playing for Atletico. I had the best level of confidence and pleasure. Everything really started with The Champions League Final in 2016, and with Euro 2016 with the French team. I was able to show my game to Europe and France. Of course, the World Cup was also an important moment. But 2015/16 represented a turning point for me. Those two defeats did hurt me, but it helped me to improve my level, my confidence and to make a name for myself.

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The World Cup, so many individual and club accolades – they’re incredible milestones and moments but what are the less obvious times in your life that really stand out as times of greatness?

The two or three weeks following those defeats were hard. You only see the negative aspects. This period can be unpleasant for my relatives too. I remember that I didn’t want to watch any football games. No phone, no Twitter, no Instagram.  I just wanted to take some rest. But you can use those experiences for the next important football matches and finals. I know what I have lost. In order not to go through those types of feelings again, I have to make sure that I give everything on the pitch. 

The first time you see friends of family after lifting the world cup – getting called to represent France, going to a basketball game you’ve been dreaming of – what other times in your life have you really felt grateful to be who you are?

The first selection was a big moment. I was with my wife, Erika, in the living room. We were watching the list on the TV. We had tears of joy. I was also very happy when I first met Derrick Rose in New York. I was like a kid meeting his idol. I was with Erika, so we were both moved. And lately, Erika and I were overwhelmed with joy with the birth of Alba.

You can have a lot of pressure. Do you think because of that pressure the moments of joy are even more intense?

Yes, for sure. Erika sees me every day. She knows and can feel the stress I might have during a football season. She is there during good and bad times. The same goes for my family. They can see the comments, or what is said here and there. I know that they are strong. I am lucky to also share the good times her and my family. We celebrate successes together.

You only have to type in three letters on google – “ant” – before your name pops up as a suggestion. What does that say to you personally about your level of fame? How do you approach/manage your level of celebrity?

At the beginning, it’s cool. This is all new. You are asked for pictures and autographs. At times, you just want to be able to do your groceries in peace. Without being photographed without really knowing it.  It can be inconvenient on some occasions. We do not necessarily want pictures of the kids being released on social media. We try to have a private life. It is part of the job and I accept that. I have never refused a picture or an autograph. It’s always a pleasure for me to do that for the fans. Without them, I would not be that popular. Besides, during hard times, I receive a lot of supportive messages from them on social media. Sometimes though, like any other human, you want to spend time with the kids, like having an ice cream with them or playing football with my son. I need to choose the right time and the right spot to do that now (smiles).

When do you feel the most “normal”? With people who have the same level of celebrity or with family perhaps?

Yes, when I am at home, I release everything. I am wearing basketball shorts and t-shirts almost all the time. I know I will also be at peace at my parents’ place, at my brother’s and sister’s, or at my friends’ here in Barcelona.

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When do you think your mindset and what’s important to you in life changed? The you of today is probably a lot different to you from the past – would you agree? Do you think you have changed?

I do not think that I have changed. Of course, I do not make the same mistakes I did when I was younger. When you’re young, you always go out. You are at restaurants or things like that noon and night. Now, I am more often at home. Almost every day. I think that I am still same. Maybe a little bit shy when I don’t know someone. I still like to laugh with my family, my friends, and my kids. On the pitch, I still want to give everything for the team, for my teammates and still want to try and win every match.

Still that same level of hunger to win though – how would you describe your mindset and your mental headspace now having achieved so much and knowing what it takes to be great?

There are good and bad days. There are times when you are more tired than others. I try to stay nice and cool as much as possible, for a picture or an autograph. I like to be at peace when I am with my kids in the park. Other than that, yes, I am still the same (smiles).

Do you still have the same level of hunger to win?

Yes, I still want to win. I want to win whether it is a match against Cornella on a synthetic pitch for the Copa del Rey, Round of 32 or for the Copa del Rey Final itself. I have been in Spain since I was 18 years old. It is important to win every match.

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You play football for a long time. You have won a lot. How do you keep this winning attitude?

I play and live football the same way I used to play a five-a-side football. The one who is winning is the one who stays on the pitch. I kept the same mentality. You have fun with your mates, but still, you will do everything to win. I have this mindset since I was young. Whether I play during trainings or official games, my goal is to win.

You took another step and play for Barcelona, with players like Messi. Surrounding yourself with elite talent, playing with such icons of the game. What has that done for you?

From the first trainings, you could see that the game style was different. It is more technical too. Since they are 14 years old, they practice toro exercises, they do possession games. Obviously, they are extremely good at it (smiles). I have learnt how to position myself on the field, how to call for the ball. I also know that I can help the team with what I have learnt previously with Cholo and with the Real Sociedad team.   

What did you bring to the FC Barcelona?

Perhaps, I would say that it is rare that an offensive player makes a lot of effort to help the defence for example. I try to call for the ball, I try to win the ball back. This is the way I play, and I won’t change that. I will do what my team needs.

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Do you have a football idol? Players you played with, players you would have loved to play with, or current players?

My idol is David Beckham. Also, Derrick Rose in Basketball. I would have loved to play with David Beckham. I have loved playing with Carlos Vela. With Pogba as well. He is a good friend d of mine. And right now, it is a real pleasure to play with Ousmane Dembélé. We get along very well even outside of the pitch. I am probably forgetting other players. There is also Diego Costa who helped me a lot to reach my best level. 

Vice versa, some players are perhaps in awe. Have ever been told this by a player or ever felt that?

No (smiles). I did ask and I have not been told anything like that (smiles). 

If you close your eyes, which medal do you see first? Why that one?

The World Cup. Because for me it is the most beautiful trophy to get and the most difficult one.

Think of all the places you have played – it’s dreamlike. It’s like FIFA or PES, you’re not only in those games but you’re a leading name. Cool, no?

At the beginning, it was a little bit strange for me, but I was proud to be part of the game. Yet, I never choose with my character because I always pass the ball or try to make moves that I am not able to do in a real game. I end up losing the game. But it is a beautiful thing to have your own character. 

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Touching on that – your esports team – what sparked that idea? Can you tell us about the journey you’d like to go on with that?

I did it with my brother Théo. I know that he was fan of video games, such as Fortnite. So, we created a team with Fortnite players, then we did it with other games. Because of Covid, it is not easy to attract brands and sponsors right now. We are still trying to create something that will last. We still have a long way to go, probably with obstacles. But, we want to make something beautiful with our esports.

We touched on all your achievements but what is there left to complete in life for you? On and off the pitch…What do you still want to achieve on the pitch and outside the pitch? 

I want to win La Liga, the Copa del Rey, and the Euro. That would be perfect. I want to lift as many trophies as possible. There is also the World Cup coming. I really want to win the Champions League as well. I want to go get the trophies I do not have yet. I want to enjoy football. In my personal life, I want to try and be the best dad to my three kids, best husband, best brother, best son. I want to bring joy to my relatives, to my fans and the people who are there for me. 

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