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Kevin Ramirez discusses crying when France qualified for their first FIFA Futsal World Cup and their targets in Uzbekistan.

Ramirez: France know we can beat anyone

Ramirez: France know we can beat anyone

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Kevin Ramirez has become something of a globetrotter since embarking on his career as a professional futsal player, having turned out for clubs in Spain, Saudi Arabia, Italy, England, India and Czech Republic. When FIFA caught up with him for an interview, the France captain was about to fly off to Costa Rica – not to enjoy the beaches and its famously relaxed way of life, or watch the quetzals that inhabit its lush, green valleys, but to play in a couple of important friendlies. Those games, against Costa Rica and Venezuela, who happen to be in France’s group at the FIFA Futsal World Cup Uzbekistan 2024, both ended in 3-3 draws.

Those two results took Les Bleus unbeaten run to 13 matches, with confidence levels having risen high since they secured a place at Uzbekistan 2024 with a 7-1 defeat of Slovakia on 14 December 2023 – a day Ramirez is not about to forget.

“I had tears in my eyes that night,” said the man who is about to turn 37. “I’m one of the oldest players on the team and I went back over everything we’ve been through in the last 10 years.

“We’ve really come a long way and we’ve had to fight hard. I thought of Michel Muffat-Joly, our old team manager, who’s no longer with us. I also thought about former coach Pierre Jacky and my family, who’ve supported me throughout my 18-year career.”

That career has seen him travel the world and become the man and the player he is today.

“I’ve experienced different cultures, met some amazing people, and made and stayed friends with people everywhere,” said Ramirez. “I’ve been exposed to different types of futsal, which has really helped me read the game better and with my anticipation, because I’m not the most athletic of players.

“I’ve been very lucky to have had this career and it’s been very rewarding. When you travel because of the sport you play or just in life even, you learn things about yourself. I hope that continues in Uzbekistan and that we can do something big there.”

As they prepare for the World Cup, France are aiming to be ambitious, stick together and remember where they have come from.

“We’ll be going into the tournament with our feet firmly on the ground, very much aware of our strengths and weaknesses,” said Ramirez. “We are new boys after all.

“You have to remember that our group contains Iran, one of the strongest futsal nations in the world, and Venezuela, who finished third at the Copa America. Even so, and though we have less experience than them, we know we can beat anyone and we’ll be doing all we can to be competitive.”

France have a busy schedule ahead of their opening match on 16 September, against a Guatemala side playing at their sixth World Cup. After a well-deserved summer break, the team will have a get-together at Clairefontaine in early August, and play their final warm-up game on 31 August at the CO’Met Arena in Orleans, where they will take on 2016 world champions Argentina.

Then comes the trip to Uzbekistan, with the team stopping off in Dubai for a few days along the way. Those preparations will give the French a chance to perfect their game and get in the right physical and mental shape for the rigours that lie ahead.

“We’re a very athletic side,” said Ramirez. “Physically, we’ve turned the corner and we’re a very tough team to play against. We make sure our opponents know that we’re there and we don’t give them time to think.”

After the tournament, Ramirez will join his new club, Sporting Paris, having signed for them in March to be closer to his family and wife, who did not travel to Saudi Arabia in 2023 because of work commitments. An admirer of the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta, the former Lazio player is not thinking about retirement just yet: “I feel great physically, so I’m going to keep on playing.”

He added: “I’ve taken all my coaching badges anyway because I want to give back to futsal what it’s given me. I’m in love with the game. No sport has ever given me as much pleasure because you’re always involved in the game. You have to think fast. You’re either on the ball or getting into space, trying to give your team-mates an option. You’re always on the move and that’s what I really love about it.”

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