Exclusive Interview: Cloé Lacasse

James Rowe for The Secret Footballer

(Image credit: slbenfica.pt)

JR: I wanted to take you back to the beginning of your footballing journey. How did your journey start on your road to becoming a professional footballer?

CL: For me at the very beginning starts at my hometown, which is called Sudbury in Ontario. A big Canadian hockey town, it’s safe to say not much football! My older brother Luc Lacasse played football and he would always play in the garden. Luc also played in a local Canadian league. This is when I started to play against him and grew a passion for football.

JR: You played four seasons for ÍBV in Iceland. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any highlights and special memories?

CL: When I started my professional journey I wanted to break into a European club and coming from North America, at that time, it was a little bit trickier. ÍBV gave me a chance to start my professional career, they are from a small island called Vestmannaeyjar of the Southern coast of Iceland. You have to take a ferry back and forth, that was a little bit of a culture shock. Anyone who has been to Iceland will understand that. We were always a mid table team, when I first joined the club we were fortunate to get a lot of good international players and also a few international players who played for the Icelandic national team. We were able to win the Icelandic Cup which was a big achievement for such as small island compared to the other clubs from Reykjavík - that was definitely a highlight for sure.

JR: You signed for arguably the biggest club in Portugal SL Benfica in 2019. How are you enjoying your time at the club and what are your memories and highlights so far?

CL: Right from the start I was extremely excited about the official interest because when I arrived at the club they were only in their second season as a women's club and I knew they had a big initiative to become one of the powerhouses of Europe in such a short period of time. This season, we made it to the round of 32 in our first Champions League appearance which is a massive achievement really and the club is making big investment - they are choosing their players in a very selective way so that the club can be successful now and also in the long term, so I am really excited about the project itself.

JR: How are you enjoying life in Lisbon both on and off the pitch?

CL: When I first arrived in Iceland it was really hard to get a handle on the culture and learn the language because it was like a different planet. The Iceladic language is very difficult so it took me quite a few years to get my head around that. But here in Portugal, I am fortunate because I speak French fluently and I think that Portuguese is similar to French so on the football pitch I can speak Portuguese and I can blend right in linguistically. I have been enjoying my time in Lisbon, it's a beautiful city, it has beaches, entertainment, beautiful scenery and a big passion for football. I mean how could they not? It is Cristiano Ronaldo's country of birth. The people of Portugal are very warm and inviting, especially once they know you’re a football player - with that been said it's been an easy transition into this welcoming city.

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JR: You have accrued a lot of experience at club level, could you say who are among the best players you have played alongside so far in your career?

CL: For me in Iceland, I had the pleasure of playing with Natasha Anasi. She was very well known in the United States and she played for the University of Duke, she won the NCAA Championship. At SL Benfica I have been fortunate to be playing with very talented Portuguese, Spanish and Brazilian players like Darlene, Pauleta and Sílvia Rebelo who are currently our team captains. Our starting eleven is full of talent and we also currently have two young Brazilian players in Ana Vitória and Nycole Raysla, they both have so much potential that is through the roof. It has been and still is an honour to play side by side with many talented teammates.

JR: I can imagine in your position as a striker that you have come against some difficult opponents so far in your career, could you say which opponents have stood out for you in terms of talent and ability?

CL: In Portugal, the teams that are really talented are SL Benfica, Sporting clube de Braga and a new challenger in F.C. Famalicão, who are in their second season in Portuguese women's football. They were promoted from the Portuguese first division last season and whenever we play against those teams it is always an excellent match. Obviously this year we had the opportunity to play POAK, RS Anderlecht and Chelsea and that was huge because RS Anderlecht has pretty much the whole Belgian national team playing and that was cool. I was really excited to play Chelsea because they are one of the leading clubs, investment wise, in women's football so it was fantastic to see the direction their programme has taken as a club. I feel like SL Benfica will be there in the next few years as far as investment and seeking out players at those levels.

JR: Finally Cloé, could you say so far in your career who are the coaches and managers who have meant a lot to you and played a key role in your development as a professional footballer?

CL: I will always say that the most influential coach in my career was my youth coach and his name was Frank Malvaso. He’s from my hometown of Sudbury in Ontario, Canada. He’s Italian and definitely an individual who was extremely passionate about football in a community that was not very knowledgeable about the game. He is extremely passionate about women's football in my hometown and he helped me to develop immensely as a player and I was fortunate to have him for quite a few years. I know he is one of the biggest reasons I was able to admire the game and really develop into the football player I am today.

James Rowe is a Dutch Football expert based in the Netherlands, professional writer and translator for The Secret Footballer. He has featured on talkSPORT and regularly features on talkSPORT 2 and Love Sport Radio. You can follow him on Twitter here.