By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Thomas Heurtel is preparing for the summer with the French national team but before that, he clarified to French newspaper “L’Equipe” that the last few months were the hardest in his career, due to his own mistakes.
“I want to show to the club that I will sign that I can be trusted, ” he explains, adding why he chose to speak on this issue after the end of the season: “It would have been selfish to start talking about my personal situation in the middle of the playoffs. It wouldn’t have changed anything and I didn’t want to hurt the team. I was training and was told I would be reinstated in the hopes of playing normally in the Spanish League finals. Unfortunately, I twist my ankle”.
Heurtel regrets missing the chance to help Real Madrid, specially in the EuroLeague Final Four: “It has been very hard. I am happy for the club and my teammates to get there and win the Spanish championship after all this work. And yet, those two months were the hardest time of my career. I am convinced that I could have given something, be it in one, ten, twenty minutes (in the Euroleague final). I wish I had the opportunity. The Final Four was a dream, after several years failing at the gates of the event. After the injury of Nigel Williams-Goss, I hoped. But Pablo Laso had made a decision and stuck to it. I had no choice but to accept it. I focused on my routines, did my best in training, and tried to stay ready”.
The French guard admits that he has nobody to blame than himself. When asked what happened on the 31st of March before the EuroLeague game against Panathinaikos, Heurtel clarified: “I went out in Athens the day before the game. The context was heavy for the team, with a big series of defeats. It was written that we came back in the early morning, that’s wrong. But it doesn’t matter. When I think back to this story, it saddens me. It was a bad choice, and I destroyed what I was looking to build with a big club like Real. If I could go back in time, I would never make the same mistake. We had a discussion a few days later, I apologized. They decided. I paid a fine, like a big boy. I couldn’t go back. But it ate me at me from the inside. It destroyed my season and what I could have accomplished with Real. I was satisfied and I had no reason to think that Real thought otherwise. But in the end, people stay on the last picture. They will remember the incident and the fact that I did not play for two months. It doesn’t accurately reflect my season”.
Heurtel stated that he feels he betrayed the trust of coach Laso, but explains that one year ago things in Barcelona were quite different admitting also that he should have handled differently the infamous Istanbul incident: “That’s what hurts me. To tell me that Pablo Laso has given me his trust and that I had betrayed him. His heart attack was a very difficult time. Barcelona had always been clear with me. After that, the club and Sarunas Jasikevicius are two different things… After his arrival, everything changed. And after the Istanbul incident, I wasn’t even talked to anymore. It was very hard for me and my family. My former agents was negotiating my release. He was talking to Real. I knew it, not Barcelona, who thought I was going to sign with Fenerbahçe. My agents asked me to travel with the team to Istanbul. Barça found out everything before the match against Efes. At the end of the evening, I’m in the parking lot and at the door of the bus, they tell me, “We’re leaving. You stay. We got you a plane ticket for tomorrow”. Luckily, Rodrigue Beaubois was still there and took care of me. Clearly, I should have refused to go to Istanbul, present the cards on the table, say who we were negotiating with, let alone take the risk that they refuse”.