Pierre Lees-Melou, a discreet man who became the headliner of Brest, surprising runner-up to PSG

Brilliant with Stade Brestois, the midfielder is the hub of play for the Ligue 1 runners-up. An atypical destiny, for a player who did not envisage a professional career.

France Télévisions – Sports Editorial


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Pierre Lees-Melou, scorer during Brest's victory against Le Havre in Ligue 1, March 3, 2024. (FRED TANNEAU / AFP)

For me, in the position he plays in, there is no equivalence in France. He can play anywhere and would even deserve to be called up for the selection.” Pierre Lees-Melou was entitled to the praise of his coach, Eric Roy, after Brest’s success against Le Havre (1-0), Sunday 3 March. A victory which consolidates the surprising place of runner-up for the Bretons in the League 1 ten days from the end of the season, nine points behind PSG, but four lengths ahead of AS Monaco, 3rd.

The Brest environment of 30 years old, sole scorer of the match, brushed aside these statements, explaining that “the step is too high. I dreamed of being a professional, to say otherwise would be a lie, and I’m already living a dream by being a professional. But the French team… The coach went a little overboard, it’s nice of him, but it’s not about that. I don’t think about it and I don’t think I’ll be there“.

From the sixth division to the European Cup

An answer that sums up what Pierre Lees-Melou is, a modest person with a head firmly on his shoulders. “I get up every morning to go play football. For many people, it’s not even a job.“, he declared Friday in the columns of South West. “That’s why I refuse to complain. Having known the amateur world allows me to keep my feet on the ground, I don’t have a Porsche or a Ferrari or expensive clothes. The only thing I allow myself is to take vacations in beautiful places.”

“From arriving at Dijon in the League 2 [en 2015] until this season, itEvery time he climbs a level, it’s nothing but happiness, for him and for us.”, confides his cousin Rémi. He describes the midfielder as someone who “remains himself, simple, who has never gotten a big head and who always comes back to see the family as soon as he can. Even if a professional footballer’s schedule leaves him little time“.

Pierre Lees-Melou during the Brest-Angers Coupe de France match, January 6, 2024. (FRED TANNEAU / AFP)

Trained at the Girondins de Bordeaux, but not retained due to his frail physique, the native of Langon (Gironde) no longer dreamed of a professional career. Between 2013 and 2015, he played among amateurs at US Lège-Cap-Ferret (Gironde) in the 6th division, the current Regional level. 1, while working as a supervisor in a school in the region. It was thanks to Nicolas Sahnoun, his coach at the time and former professional player, that he passed several detections in Dijon. “He had the chance to show what he was worth, a chance that not everyone necessarily has at this level“, explains Rémi, who has been following his cousin’s progress since their first crampons.

A gradual career followed, which saw him discover the League 1 with DFCO in 2016, then the European Cup with Nice the following season, with a Champions League play-off round lost against Naples. Having passed through the Premier League at Norwich (2021-2022), he is developing a more defensive, rougher personality. “At first I was getting shaken, I thought I had made mistakes, but nothing happened. There were two solutions, complain or do it. I had to take the shots, otherwise it was me who took them“, he explains to South West. He discovered the role of sentinel in England, which he took head-on by arriving in July 2022 at Stade Brestois, with the success that we know. If the winter was tumultuous, with intense rumors of departure for Rennes, “it is never with the aim of forcing anything. He demonstrates it on the ground. There was an agreement, the transfer did not happen, he did not dwell on it and went straight back to work“, reveals his cousin.

More daring on the field than off

From a statistical point of view, the Brestois panics the counters at his post. Best ball catcher in the League 1 according to the site specializing in statistics Fbref, Pierre Lees-Melou is the control tower of a Brest stadium which never ceases to impress. Essential in defensive play therefore, but also in attack, since the ex-Niçois, under contract until June 2027, remains on three goals in his last four outings. A style of play focused forward despite his role as a defensive midfielder, which reflects his character.

“On the pitch, he doesn’t hesitate to project himself and leave his position vacant, like when he scores against Marseille or Le Havre. But off the pitch, he’s almost cowardly, he never takes risks and doesn’t throw himself never on a whim.”

Rémi, cousin of Pierre Lees-Melou

at franceinfo: sport

Although he now flourishes in Brest, Pierre Lees-Melou remains very attached to the region where he was born and grew up. The midfielder opened a leisure complex in Langon, his birthplace, as well as a health and well-being center. As if to prepare for what comes next, see you soon 31 years, even if he “hopes to go at least up to 35 years, and why not continue afterwards.

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