VfB Stuttgart's Benjamin Pavard has been rewarded for his fine start to the Bundesliga season by a first call-up to France's senior squad, joining Bayern Munich's Corentin Tolisso and Kingsley Coman in the UEFA EURO 2016 runners-up selection for friendlies against Wales and Germany.
The 21-year-old has been ever-present for Stuttgart this season, helping the Swabian outfit adjust to life back in the top flight. With Monaco's Djibril Sidibe injured, Pavard made his senior international debut against Wales in Paris on 10 November and is in line to face the world champions in Cologne four days later.
"The club never tells me if I've been pre-selected. I just saw the list when it was published. The problem was that I was in my German class. Afterwards, the whole team ate together, and I saw my telephone kept ringing. I said to myself, 'What's going on?'" said Pavard, who has 15 Under-21 caps.
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"Honestly, I was very very surprised and very very happy. It's one of the best days of my life because I really didn't expect it in fact. I'm not going to hide the fact I cried and my parents too, because all the sacrifices we have made since I was little have paid off. I don't think I've ever cried as much. It's only the start, the hardest part is to come."
Pavard, who joined Stuttgart from Lille in 2016, enjoyed a team-high 349 touches of the ball in October with a 91 per cent pass completion rate, tallies surpassed among Bundesliga centre-backs only by the Frenchman's role model, Bayern Munich’s peerless Mats Hummels.
France coach Didier Deschamps expects Pavard to play at right-back with the national selection, exploiting his chameleon-esque qualities to adapt to his team’s needs, and despite the tears there will be no shirking his responsibilities. As Pavard says himself, “I’ve matured into a man.”