Our latest guest on the Total Waterpolo Podcast is Marseille sharp-shooter and captain of the French national team, Ugo Crousillat.
On an intriguing episode with the 32-year-old Frenchman, we covered topics varying from his development in Marseille and switching nationalities to play for Montenegro, to him becoming the first French player to ever win the Champions League, and the Rio and the upcoming Paris Olympic games.
Born and raised in Marseille, in Ugo’s own words, he “fell in love with the sport immediately”. From the early days of breaking through as a teenager at his home club, he describes what motivated him to become an elite player:
“It was difficult because I put a lot of pressure on myself, but to be honest, I felt like a kid at Disney. I always wanted to come and watch the first team train. They were like idols to me, and it was also a reason why I wanted to become a professional. I saw some players in Marseille who made me dream.”
But Ugo realised that his hometown club could only take his development so far. “I was in Marseille, and I decided I wanted to leave to improve,” he said. “I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone.”
Ugo packed up from Marseille and headed to Budva, at the time one of the best teams in Europe. He didn’t realize it at the time, but soon he would swap the French ‘tricolore’ for the Montenegrin ‘Zastava Crne Gore’:
“Things went faster than I expected. I played well, and they asked me if I would be interested in playing for Montenegro. It wasn’t a good situation for me in France, so I decided to change my nationality. It was a chance for me to play with some of the guys I watched on TV, like Ivovic, Jokic, and Nikola Janovic. After a few months, I was training with them. It was an amazing experience, maybe too fast for me at that moment. It was like going from being a kid in Marseille to being in the final of the World Championships with some of my idols. I reached that level because I worked a lot.”
After reaching the pinnacle of taking home a silver medal at the World Championships at Barcelona in 2013 with Montenegro, Crousillat soon returned to the French national team – where he would realise another of his wildest dreams, becoming an Olympian:
“It’s one of my biggest memories. After 25 years, qualifying for the Olympic Games was like winning a medal for us. It was amazing. We needed to find a balance between enjoying the magic of the Olympics and getting good results. At some points in the competition, we were a bit like tourists.”
Crousillat admits on the podcast that he didn’t know if he would have the opportunity to play at another Olympic Games. However, the left-hander will, in all likelihood, lead his team as the captain at a home Olympics in 2024 – a privilege that carries a lot of pressure:
“We know that a historical result in Paris would be good for us because it’s our dream to reach a medal, but it would also be good for French water polo. We don’t want to put too much pressure on ourselves, but we can’t escape it. We’re working hard.”
Listen to our episode with Ugo now! All the episodes of the Total Waterpolo Podcast are available on all major Podcast streaming services, such as Spotify, Apple Podcasts and YouTube. Don’t forget to head over to www.wearwaterpolo.com and use our discount code ‘PODCAST10’ for 10% off your next order!