when Lens takes on a “ch’ti” accent from the South

In their imagination, the North was the corons and the underground miners, but it was not really the next door. Saturday December 4, however, Saint Barbe will watch over Florian Sotoca, Jonathan Gradit, or even Jean-Louis Leca, three “Southerners” for the reception of Paris-Saint-Germain at the Bollaert-Delelis stadium during the 17e Ligue 1 day. In Lens, we “Heated the ass of the French” according to the local expression, but never on the day of “La Barbe”, patron saint of the black mouths.

“The Miners’ Day, we feel that it is an important moment for the people of the region. The club always offers a unique jersey for the occasion, and it tears off very quickly ”, said Florian Sotoca. The striker, with a singing accent, was born in Narbonne, in the land of rugby, in 1990. At the same time, the last gaillette of coal came up from the Oignies shaft, the last line of a two hundred and seventy-year mining history in the North. For having transformed the penalty of the rise in Ligue 1, in March 2020, the former employee a shoe wholesaler embodies the success of a team installed in the top five in the standings, despite a recent cold snap (two points taken in three games).

Recently, Sotoca even has the right to a song in his name. And too bad if the interested party is not “Not very rap”, the title of Rask describes well, according to him, this team of “Let go” without high-sounding names. Between two punchlines on the Occitan (“I am in the field determined like Sotoca, everything for the team, I am collective like Sotoca, […] I use my head like Sotoca “), the rapper also quotes the midfielder Yannick Cahuzac and the defender Jonathan Gradit: a Corsican and a Bordelais.

Having arrived in 2019 on the tip of his crampons, Jonathan Gradit has earned a nickname, ” the drill », A sign of the love acquired from the Sang et Or public. “Since I was very young, I appreciated this team, said the 29-year-old. My father liked popular clubs, like Lens or Saint-Etienne, and influenced me. ” The defender praises the sense of welcoming people from the North, far from the sweet indifference experienced during his previous experience in Tours in Ligue 2. “As soon as I moved in, the neighbor offered to come and have a drink at his place. It’s not common. I quickly adapted to the region ”, he assures, despite a reluctance of his taste buds for the traditional welsh: “That’s a bit special. “

“Offensive play” and “show”

The examples of Gradit and Sotoca prove it. For a career to take off, it sometimes has to meet the right environment. Like the Alsatian Jonathan Clauss, passed from the anonymity of the German D2 to the gates of the Blues, this Lens version Franck Haise (the Norman coach) refers to that of 1998, champion of France sublimated by talent and the aggressiveness of “adoptees”, such as Tony Vairelles the Nancy-born or Anto Drobnjak the Montenegrin. “Even if the title is impossible with PSG, we have already been told that our team was reminiscent of that of 1998 with its attacking game and the show we are offering”, said Florian Sotoca, relishing the comparison.

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