OnlyAGame? UEFA football exhibition comes to Liverpool - World Museum Liverpool - 11/10/2008 to 01/03/2009
patrons ... Lilian Thuram
Lilian Thuram, a supporter of the exhibition “Only a game ?”
Behind his sensible glasses, Lilian Thuram first raises an eyebrow when told that 26% of the inhabitants of Brussels are of foreign origin. Then he smiles, because this large number pleases him. “Exchange is part of man’s nature,” says the West Indian defender. “Being European is all about growing. I am European. I see myself as a citizen of the world.”
“I come from the West Indies and so my culture is a mix of the Caribbean, France, America and so on,” notes the man who was born on 1 January 1972, in Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe. As a young footballer, Thuram moved from the suburbs of Paris to Monaco. He then crossed his first European frontier by moving from the principality to Parma, the club with which he won his first continental trophy, the UEFA Cup, in 1999 as well as the Italian Cup in the same year. He would also go on to win the World Cup in 1998, the Confederations Cup in 2003 and the European Championship in 2000. His next move was to Piedmont. With Juventus, he won the Italian championship in 2002, 2003 and 2005. In 2003 he was a finalist in the Champions League, in a match won by AC Milan at Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium. In the summer of 2006, Thuram moved from Italy and crossed the Mediterranean to Catalonia. He immediately won the Spanish Super Cup in 2006.
Lilian Thuram is without doubt a fantastic footballer. However, the man has a depth to him that attracts attention. For he takes positions and expresses his beliefs, in which other people as well as Europe play a central role. He is a member of France’s High Council for Integration, an organisation engaged in reflection and committed to making proposals. “It’s important to be firmly rooted in one’s culture in order to accept other people,” he says. Thuram speaks out against people being turned back at borders or the idea of confining them to suburbs. He also criticises society’s haste to designate guilty parties. “Some people cling on to false solutions. Yes, there is an identity crisis and the notion of identity is disappearing. But there is every reason to be optimistic, because our countries are now experiencing a creational crisis, a sort of birth. From a historical perspective, it has to be said that people have only really been involved in exchanges for a very short period. Those from outside Europe, such as North Africa, have been doing this for 50 years... Which is not very long...”
Enlargement, in the opinion of Thuram, is clearly about frontiers. But above all it is a question of mentality. “I am not defined by a geographic area, but by a feeling. Europe is an extraordinary idea,” he concludes. This exhibition is a living expression of this statement.