Peter Luccin interview: The track change in Texas for ex-Atlético midfielder

Photo: Jason Minnick
Photo: Jason Minnick

Veteran French midfielder Peter Luccin is a player many will recall from his days in Europe with the likes of Marseille, Paris Saint-Germain and Atlético Madrid, but now with FC Dallas in Major League Soccer, life and music have moved on for him in many ways.

In 1997, the FIFA World Youth Championship took place in Malaysia. Looking back on the players involved in that tournament, some rose to the upper echelons of the game, and naturally, many didn’t. The victorious Argentina squad included stars in the making such as Walter Samuel, Esteban Cambiasso, Pablo Aimar and Juan Román Riquelme.

France only made it to the quarter-final under the guidance of future Liverpool manager Gérard Houllier, losing on penalties to Uruguay, but a handful of their squad went on to enjoy huge success as professionals. Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet were World Cup winners just a year later, while Mickaël Landreau, Willy Sagnol, Mikaël Silvestre, Philippe Christanval and William Gallas all represented prestigious European clubs.

Midfielder Peter Luccin is another example. During the competition he scored in the group win against South Africa before grabbing a dramatic 90th-minute decider in the last 16 against Mexico. His journey in club football would take in some big names including Bordeaux, Marseille, Paris Saint-Germain and Atlético Madrid, and there was Champions League football along the way too.

Now 35, he is in his second year with FC Dallas, who were one of the original Major League Soccer clubs when they began the 1996 season as Dallas Burn. Peter follows in the footsteps of former captain Daniel Hernández and now-Stoke City midfielder Brek Shea as Dallas players on the site.

The idea on here is to blend music talk with discussion of the on-field matters and more, and there is a real link to be found between those with Peter. He has two sons and a daughter and he starts by sharing how he and his family have adapted to moving to Dallas, Texas.

“I like the tranquillity and the space of this city. I was very well received here.
“My family likes this city but at the beginning it was hard to learn the language. Now, it is getting better.”

It only takes a quick look over the clubs he has turned out for over many years to appreciate that Peter has always had some quality in the locker. Aside from that, he has never been shy of putting his foot in and that tenacity has previously earned him a few bookings. The competitive edge has not been lost but when it comes to the music he enjoys, he has noticed a change in his lyrical preference over time.

“I listen to a lot of rap music, but little by little, fewer of my favourite artists are the ones that use vulgar language. For me, it is more about finding a beat or rhythm to the music that I enjoy.”

Coming through the youth system at AS Cannes, Peter made his professional breakthrough with the club and impressed enough for Bordeaux to come in for him in 1997. A few years previously, he made his first steps in the music-buying world! Like so many interviewees on here, the first record he bought was from arguably the most famous artist of all-time.

“I think it was Michael Jackson. I was maybe 12 or 13 years old.”

Peter only went on to spend a year with Bordeaux before a 1998 transfer to Marseille, but while with Les Girondins he played alongside a certain Togo-born defender. The player was also in the France squad for the aforementioned World Youth Championship in 1997 and Peter recalls him as the standout player of his career when it comes to team music, with classic East Coast hip-hop among his choices.

“A friend of mine, Kodjo Afanou is the most memorable for me. I played with him in Bordeaux in 1997.
“He was the DJ in the locker room. He played a rap-music-heavy playlist, things like Mobb Deep and Wu-Tang Clan.
“I don’t think that the players have best or bad taste. It’s just taste, but when players listen to hard rock music, I recognise that is not for me.”


Peter alongside FC Dallas' former player David Ferreira. Photo: Jason Minnick.
Peter alongside FC Dallas’ former player David Ferreira. Photo: Jason Minnick.


Two years each spent with Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain preceded a move to Celta Vigo of La Liga in 2002. Peter had been on loan with the Galician club in 2001/02 and he made the switch a permanent one, staying for three seasons.

Celta had an impressive 2002/03 campaign, finishing in 4th place under Miguel Ángel Lotina and qualifying for the Champions League third qualifying phase. Players at the club that season included South African striker Benni McCarthy, Egyptian frontman Mido, veteran Russian playmaker Aleksandr Mostovoi and productive Brazilian midfielder / attacker Edu.

Fortunes would take a dramatic turn for the worse in 2003/04 however, as Celta reached the last 16 of the Champions League but were relegated from the top division, finishing four points from safety in 19th. It was Peter’s last season at the Balaídos and although he contributed five league goals it was a huge disappointment for the team to plummet so quickly.

For Peter, the next port of call was Atlético Madrid, where he stayed from 2004 to 2007. Current Colchoneros head coach Diego Simeone was briefly a teammate and local favourite and now-Chelsea striker Fernando Torres captained Peter for three seasons.

Joining Real Zaragoza in 2007, his debut season with the 2004 Copa del Rey winners ended in relegation and he would make a loan move to Racing Santander in 2008/09. Helping Santander to a 12th-placed finish in La Liga, he went back to Zaragoza for 2009/10 but injury ruled him out of their return to the top flight.

Peter departed Zaragoza at the end of that campaign and brought the curtain down on nine seasons in Spain. There were successes and disappointments in that time but he looks back at the most enjoyable spells.

“My best memory was when I was playing with Celta Vigo. We played great football and made some history.
“I also had great moments with Atlético Madrid.”

A trial with Glasgow Celtic in 2010 did not yield a permanent move to Scotland and it was late-2011 when Peter finally joined a new club, linking up with Lausanne of Switzerland. Leaving the Swiss Super League side a few months later, he eventually signed for FC Dallas at the end of 2012.

It is fair to say that his vision for an ideal debut year in MLS went out the window pretty quickly, as he suffered an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury in pre-season. Despite the setback, he responded remarkably, returning to make two starts and three appearances in all before the end of 2013. What was more impressive though was how he took on the role of mentor to Dallas’ younger players, offering his wealth of high-level experience to guide them along during his time out injured.

Head coach Schellas Hyndman stepped down at the end of the season following five years in charge and was replaced in January by Colombian Óscar Pareja. Signing with the club in their Dallas Burn days in 1998, ex-midfielder Pareja was a big favourite as a player, scoring 13 and assisting 47 in seven years before his 2005 retirement.

Peter had been training with old club Marseille to maintain fitness during the close-season and he re-signed for Dallas as expected. The 2010 MLS Cup runners-up have made a positive start to 2014 and are 2nd in the Western Conference after eight games.

Match action for Peter has been limited so far to three substitute appearances and he is currently easing his way back from a hamstring problem which has just recently healed. Dallas had won four of their previous five games before a 4-1 defeat at D.C. United last Saturday and are 2nd on goal difference to Seattle Sounders.

Despite all the clubs he has represented and the many teammates he has worked with, Peter has never had to introduce himself as a new signing by singing for his colleagues.

“No, I never had to do that. It is fortunate too because I am a poor singer!”

“Sincerely, I don’t remember something like that. Maybe a player has sung in the locker room following a win or something like that, but nothing memorable.”

Two players at the club, Colombian forward Fabian Castillo and Trinidad & Tobago-born defender Nick Walker, are known to start singing at any given moment. However, if Peter was selecting one of his career teammates to record a cover version of a song with, he would go with a 32-year-old forward and fellow Frenchman. The towering frontman was with Dallas in 2013 but now plays for San Antonio Scorpions of the North American Soccer League.

“(I would choose) Eric Hassli.”

Before Peter takes on the last question, it is an opportunity for some nostalgia from a personal perspective. I recalled in the interview the first time I saw Peter play, in a game between Chelsea and Marseille in the UEFA Champions League back in 2000. I was only a child at the time so all these years later I wanted to mention it and get his take on those seasons he spent playing in France.

“Honestly, I had so many good times at Marseille. I have been very fortunate, having the opportunity to play in my city with legendary players.
“My time in Paris was also a lot of fun.”

All that remains now is arguably the most intriguing but potentially tricky question of all. For any first-time readers of the site, this is a regular feature and it works by the player putting themselves into a 5-a-side team and selecting four of their best career teammates to join them.

Considering the esteemed company Peter has enjoyed over the years it is little surprise that his line-up is so strong. Here he is to run through the four he chose and there is a mix of defensive solidity and mesmeric attacking play to enjoy in this team. It will be left up to him as to which of his two strikers starts as a sub!

“Goalkeeper – Andreas Köpke, just because of the incredible career he had. Defender – Laurent Blanc, one of the best players ever.
“Midfielder – Jay-Jay Okocha, technically perfect, he is an amazing player. Striker – Thierry Henry, the best striker in French history, along with Nicolas Anelka.”

Follow me on Twitter: @chris_brookes

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