This article is an extract from the latest issue of Champions Journal which is available to purchase now.
This is my first meeting with Jules Koundé, the 22-year-old French defender whose verve, pace and will to win have wowed the Sevilla faithful since joining from Bordeaux in 2019. First impressions will count. As he takes his seat in front of the cameras I mention my friendship with his former coach, Gustavo Poyet, and how highly the Uruguayan has always rated this human-dynamo footballer who has stamped his personality and skill-set all over Sevilla’s play for the last couple of seasons.
Koundé erupts with pleasure: “What a great coach – maybe the best I’ve had!” He insists that Poyet gets that message. Our guest is buzzing. Fizzing with positive energy, eagerness, fun… anticipation at speaking about a subject he loves. Koundé has been briefed that our topic will be his love of music and he’s brimming with things to get across as we chat for four or five minutes as the production team set everything up. We switch between Spanish, English and French, before eventually making a pact: I ask questions in Spanish, he answers in French. What then stands out a mile is that this terrific footballer is extremely intelligent, articulate, fun, self-confident and patently determined to enjoy his good fortune in life.
It’s difficult to give you my favourite artist because I listen to a lot of music, a lot of different genres and so a lot of different artists. I’d have to say Kendrick Lamar, a rapper from Los Angeles. He’s one of my favourite artists for loads of different reasons. Musically, he’s really talented. He comes up with great melodies and especially great lyrics, and that’s why he’s the most famous [rapper]. He’s also really creative with his music videos. I really like the way that he presents himself; he’s pretty discreet, he doesn’t talk much. Of course, I have loads of others, but I’d say that he’s my favourite artist.
It’s a genre I discovered pretty early on, in secondary school, and I liked it straight away because the rappers that I listen to talk about a lot of things that happen in our lives. I think that there’s always been a relationship between rap and sport because they’re both competitive environments where everyone thinks that they’re the best and tries to be the best, and that’s why I relate to it. The rappers that I listen to are often artists who are committed to the fight for social justice, and their lyrics speak to me. I listen to a lot of rappers who are considered to be lyricists, whether they’re French, American or otherwise, and I really like focusing on the lyrics. Beyond the melodies, it’s about the message that the artist is putting across.