Why Is French Soccer Player Antoine Griezmann in Love with Uruguay?

Frances Kylian Mbappe and teammate Antoine Griezmann
France's Kylian Mbappe and teammate Antoine Griezmann | © David Vincent / AP / REX / Shutterstock
Elena Artola

The French champion’s public display of affection for the small South American country represents a personal connection that runs deeper than sports—a curious connection, considering the world champion has never been to Uruguay.

There have been subtle, often overlooked, hints of Antoine Griezmann’s fondness for the South American country. For example, the soccer player has been seen drinking mate several times, though no one gave much significance to his affinity for the traditional Uruguayan drink. He also used a Uruguayan flag as his Whatsapp image for some time. And when Uruguay qualified for the World Cup, Griezmann welcomed the team players at Madrid’s airport, with his mate and the official Uruguayan shirt.

Griezmann has openly declared his love to Uruguay, saying, “Uruguay is my second country.” Still, some Uruguayans remained skeptical. Until the 2018 FIFA World Cup, there was no reason for locals to particularly care about the French idol. During the World Cup quarterfinal, however, when France defeated Uruguay, he won the respect of the small Latin country.

First, before entering the field, he hugged all the Uruguayan players one by one. Such behavior could simply be a sign of good sportsmanship, but what truly surprised people was when he didn’t celebrate at all after scoring against Uruguay. His team ran to hug him, and he remained quiet—and some say possibly looking a little overwhelmed.

Griezmann stated, “I have a lot of respect for them, I was in front of friends and teammates. I didn’t want to celebrate, out of respect.”

Then, after winning the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Griezmann asked a journalist during a press conference to hand him something. It turns out that the man was a Uruguayan journalist who gave him the Uruguayan flag, as requested. Griezmann put the flag on his shoulders before continuing with the press conference—a deeply patriotic move. But why a Uruguayan flag instead of his own French flag?

The French soccer player wore a Uruguayan flag instead of his own country’s

He explained that in every stage of his career as a professional player, there has been a Uruguayan in his team who taught him so much about soccer.

Griezman’s affinity began when he developed close connections to many players on the Uruguayan soccer team. While playing for different teams in Spain, he made friendships with Carlos Bueno, Diego Ifrán, José María Giménez, and Martín Lasarte—who the French player says taught him about soccer and life.

“I have some Uruguayan characteristics, like the way they play, they give everything for their team, they never give up and they help their teammates. It’s a nation I love and a country I love,” Griezman added.

Griezmann says he learned a lot about soccer from fellow Uruguayan players

He’s also close with Uruguay’s team captain, Diego Godín (their wives are also friends)—so close, in fact, that Griezmann’s daughter is Godín’s godchild. Griezmann told the official FIFA site that Godín is, “A great friend! I spend every day with him, in the locker room and out of the field. That’s why he’s godfather to my little daughter. Giménez and Godín know everything about me, and I know everything about them.”

Griezmann says he’ll be visiting Uruguay next December for the first time, for Diego Godín’s wedding. Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez sent him a letter telling him how grateful he was for his kindness and to announce that he’d like to welcome him in his office during his visit. It was also announced that Antoine Griezmann would be named Distinguished Visitor of Montevideo, Uruguay.

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Edit article