Quentin Westberg is a French-American goalkeeper who represented the US with the U17, U20 and U23 youth national teams. Last season his club Luzenac earned promotion into Ligue 2 but were awkwardly rejected admittance into the second division. Westberg talks about his ties to both America and France, what was happening behind the scenes at Luzenac, and where he is now in the search for a new club. For more about how Westberg ended up in a city with a population of just 650, read Michael Yokihn’s fantastic piece on Westberg.
Why move to France to play? From a US national team fan’s perspective, there’s the worry that you’ll fall off the radar going overseas. You could have stayed close here in the US, near the National Team coaches, and work your way to MLS.
I was born and raised in France. So France is where I discovered soccer, really. I always played there apart from the US youth national teams, although I always felt more American as an athlete. Early on in my career, I had the opportunity to come to MLS but I chose to stay in Europe, despite being really interested, because I felt Europe was where the best soccer was played at the time. I know from an American standpoint France L1 is a lower league compared to the EPL, for example, but the league is very tough and usually players who stands out there does very well in England or Spain, such as Benzema, Ribery, Drogba, and Hazard.
Can you expand on feeling more “American as an athlete”? I assume you mean you wanted to play for America but still rooted for both them and France in the last World Cup?
I grew up in France with an American dad and a French mom. I am very proud of both my cultures. I have been and still often asked here in France why I chose to play for the U.S. at such a young age, instead of taking a shot at French national youth teams like I could have when I was 16. It was clear to me, even before I had to make a choice, that I wanted to play for the U.S. because playing sports in America is way different than it is here. Or anywhere else I know. I was lucky to experience four promotions with professional clubs here in France but my best soccer memories were with the US national team.
Luzenac’s situation was confusing to say the least. Luzenac earned promotion, then it was denied, it went to hearings and courts but continued to hit a wall again and again. So without beating a dead horse, what’s an aspect about this that isn’t getting out to the public? Surely it wasn’t just that Luzenac didn’t have the financial stability and appropriate stadium to move up, right?
Confusing for sure… A complete joke, if you ask me. The club was denied access to Ligue 2 for a lot of reason but no particular one in the end except being a small and ambitious club that represented a whole region and not one big town. First it was money problems, then a stadium problem but it turned out there were no big enough problems to deny our promotion. It just took until September 10th to prove all of that and that’s when a judge considered it was too late to place us in any league.
It’s a huge disappointment for everybody that followed the club. And it’s a wrong message to send to people that love promotion/relegation, proving it’s not as simple as it seems. From a player’s point of view, it’s kind of hard to accept that even after a great year filled with success, you can still be left out of a League you deserved to play in.
What are Luzenac’s plans moving forward? I saw they released all the first team players but I haven’t seen anything about where, or if, they club will be placed for next season.
The club now only exists at the level its reserve team used to play, in French 7th division. That level, not being professional. All the player’s contracts where annulled in early September, when all the leagues had been playing for at least five weeks. Luzenac went from being a professional club, whose general manager was Fabien Barthez (a former World Cup winner and a couple of times best goalkeeper in the world) to a random club team like one of the hundreds in France.
You’re one of the few players left that hasn’t signed with another club. Are you talking with any clubs at the moment?
I have been in contact with a few clubs since being officially out of contract on September 10th. Even when our promotion got denied, Fabien Barthez asked me to stay with them to fight for promotion all over again, but the club didn’t even stay in that division and its professional side was dissolved. I had an offer from a Portuguese 1st division club early in August, but at the time the club [Luzenac] was really confident everything would fall into place. Since September 10th I’ve had quite a few contacts, mostly with French sides, but since it’s so late into the season, all the clubs had already all of their roster’s need for goalkeepers. We are not like forwards where you can afford having five or six. Most professional clubs have three, and in 95% of cases, all 3 goalkeepers are signed by pre-season.
I have always wanted to play in MLS at some point in my career. Over these past 8-10 years, I have had the opportunity a few times but it never worked out, mostly for calendar reasons. I would love to have this opportunity again sooner or later. Maybe now is the time, maybe I will discover another European league. Regardless, I still practice six times a week with my goalkeeper coach so I am ready for whatever challenge comes up for me next.
Quentin recently posted highlights, covering games over the past four years.