Last Friday, something special happened. It might not be exceptional for most of us, as it is something we might never experience in our lifetimes. However, it surely was exceptional for others. It represents a milestone in their career paths as well as proof that their work is finally being rewarded. Some got used to being part of that event, yet I am certain that I still regard such an achievement with so much value, prestige and privilege. If that is the case for those who have already lived this special experience, one can only wonder how they must have felt the first time. Thankfully, we managed to get a glimpse of the emotions rushing through a person’s veins when the great news broke out.
Last Friday, French national football team manager Didier Deschamps announced the list of players he selected for the team’s upcoming friendly fixtures against Ivory Coast and South Africa, as part of his squad’s preparation for the 2022 World Cup that will be taking place in Qatar in December. There were some familiar names which all football fans are used to seeing them representing their country, such as French captain Hugo Lloris for example. However, there were some new recruits this time. Players who will get to represent their country on the big stage of football for the first time in their career – and hopefully not the last.
Getting called up for the national team is one of – if not the – highest honours a player can ever dream of. I feel personally privileged to have had that experience happen in my lifetime when I got called up for the U-14, and then U-16, Lebanese football national team. As a kid, it is a dream that seems just so far away and almost impossible, even more impossible than making it as a professional football player. To be standing there on matchday, your country’s flag spread and held high in front of you, chanting the national anthem with your right hand on your heart. There are no words to describe the sensation of being in this moment, a moment only a strictly selected few will ever get to witness with their own eyes. A moment that means that you are amongst the best in your country, and worthy of wearing your country’s colours and fighting for them. In this moment, you know that an entire nation is watching you and wishing you all the best, hoping that you will make them proud. In that moment, you are not just a simple football player; you are carrying the hopes of an entire nation on your shoulders, as well as becoming a role model for future generations who will also develop that love for the game thanks to you.
Those emotions, those achievements, those bursts of joy, those feelings of pride are going to be part of a new chapter in the story of 29-year-old Jonathan Clauss.
Clauss spent most of his career in the lower divisions of France and Germany before signing a contract with US Quevilly-Rouen in the Ligue 2 (France second-tier league) for the 2017–18 season. Upon expiration of his contract at the end of that same season, free agent Clauss joined 2.Bundesliga (Germany second-tier league) side Arminia Bielefeld after trialling with the side. In May 2020, Clauss left Bielefeld upon expiration of his contract in the summer and agreed a three-year contract with French first division club RC Lens. Fast forward to last Friday, this defender reached the peak of his career so far by earning his first ever call-up to the French national team. The amount of joy this man felt when he got the news can be summed up in this video.
“Keep flying high, so that others are inspired to fly with you.”
Dreams come true. There is no denying that there is a small amount of luck involved in it all, yet the amount is strongly insignificant when we compare it to the hours of pain, dedication, commitment and willingness to keep pushing forward. To soar high when it seems like everything is trying to drag us down. Despite all the inner doubt building up with every setback, there is always a way to get back up and to keep fighting for what we love, for what we believe in. It is not an easy mindset, but it is a simple one. For the day you finally get to reap what you have sown for so long, all the struggles and falls will automatically vanish in front of the joy and pride that you would be experiencing.
Never give up on your dreams!
“Your heart is free. Have the courage to follow it.”