Antoine Griezmann has on more than one occasion shown the great love he holds for the nation of Uruguay. So deep is his respect for the South American nation that he chose not to celebrate his goal against Uruguay in the semi-final of the World Cup – after which he also wore the Uruguayan flag draped around his shoulders in the post-match interview in another gesture of respect.
And respect in Uruguay for the Frenchman appears to be mutual: last year the City of Montevideo declared him a Visitante Illustre (a Visitor of Honour title equivalent to being bestowed with the key to the city in the U.S. or Europe); while the Uruguayan president, Tabaré Vázquez, wrote to him personally to congratulate him on winning the World Cup and express his desire to meet him.
Griezmann is held in such high regard in Uruguay that Uruguayans have paid homage to the French footballer by naming their babies some variant of Antoine, with Antuan, Antuán or Anthuán being registered more than 11 times in the past year. Other famous footballer names that have been popular in the South American nation are Neymar, David Beckham and Edinson Cavani, according to records obtained by Urguyuan newspaper El País.
The reason behind Griezmann’s love affair with Uruguay
“Since I was 18 years old when I started playing professional football (…) every year I have had a Uruguayan who helped me in difficult times, always the smile of a Uruguayan helped me,” Griezmann explained a few weeks ago at Montevideo’s Carrasco Airport.
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The Frenchman’s career began at Real Sociedad, where he was guided by Uruguayan coach Martín Lasarte. There he also played with Uruguayan striker Carlos Bueno, who introduced him to mate tea and made him a fan of Athletic Club Peñarol.
Since joining Atlético Madrid in 2014, he has developed great friendships with his Uruguayan team mates, and especially with captain Diego Godín. Godín is godfather to the daughter of Griezmann, who recently attended the Atlético captain’s wedding in Uruguay.
“He’s my daughter’s godfather and he had to be here, I hope we can enjoy this wonderful and unique moment,” said the Frenchman shortly before the wedding of Godín and partner Sofía Herrera.