At Tales From Sport, we believe in giving athletes the platform to tell their stories first-hand. Of course, fans of any sports will always have their own opinion on what a players greatest moment was, but does that player feel the same? Or is there another, more personal moment that stands above all others?
In this series, we will be asking professional athletes from various sports one simple question, What do you consider the greatest moment of your career?
In the third edition of this series, Professional American Football player Philéas Pasqualini joins us to share his answer.
‘My Greatest Moment in Sport’ by Philéas Pasqualini
My favourite moment in my football career is a special moment for me personally. It was in France with my hometown team, Cannes, in Division 2, so it was not the highest level in which I have played, but my teammates were the first I played with and became my family.
It was two years ago, during the season that was cancelled mid-season because of Covid-19. We had a very good team, one of the best three teams in the south, but we had a few losses at the start of the season due to injuries to key players. In the last game before the cancellation, we had to play the best southern team and favourite for the National Title away from home. They were undefeated, but we had recovered all our key players so I knew we could win.
Gones of Lyon was the team. Members of my family that I had not seen for years were present since they lived in Lyon. The game was very intense with Hollywood-style twists and turns, but the two teams were equal. It all came down to the last play for the Gones. We were ahead with 4 points, if I remember correctly. There were only a few seconds left. They were in our RedZone and had to score on this play or lose the game. In Division 2, I also played Defensive End to help my team as much as I could. So before the play, I asked my Head Coach to let me in on the defence because I was fresh and the best athlete on my team. He believed in me, and I repaid his faith. I came onto the field, sacked the QB, caused him to fumble the ball, which I then recovered. The match ended with this action. The feeling after this was insane, no words to describe it, it was special partly because of the action, the timing, etc… but mainly because Cannes is my first football team, it was for my friends, in front of my family. It was very important for the rest of the season before the cards were redistributed.
Philéas Pasqualini Biography
It is fair to say Philéas Pasqualini’s journey to becoming one of Europe’s elite Running Backs is a highly unique one. The Frenchman did not play American Football until he was 18 years old. Instead, he spent his early years focused on a different sport, Taekwondo. The Cannes native was so skilful in the martial art that he earned a place on the French National Team and competed in major international competitions, such as the Austrian Open, Belgium Open and French Open, from 2009-2011. Pasqualini had the possibility of becoming an Olympic athlete in 2012. However, he decided to step away from competing during the preparations for the London games due to personal reasons.
Pasqualini had a long-term appreciation for American Football from an early age, citing Ladanian Tomlinson as his initial inspiration within the sport. The Panthers Wrocław star was also fascinated by USC Trojans and New Orleans Saints legend Reggie Bush, with the Frenchman currently wearing the number 25 in honour of him. Bush actually had an indirect impact on Pasqualini joining his first Football team. While watching YouTube clips of the Running Back in action in class, one of Philéas’ friends informed him that Cannes, their hometown, actually has their own American Football team that he could try out for.
Taekwondo and American Football are obviously very different sports and require a completely different skill set. However, according to Pasqualini himself, one thing they do share is the mentality needed to succeed. Perhaps this is a reason why the former Taekwondo French National team member rose so quickly through the sport. After a tryout, Pasqualini joined his local team. One year later, he was already a member of the Fédération Française de Football Américain (FFFA) national team, representing his country at the 2014 U19 World Cup in Kuwait. Unsurprisingly, Philéas is the only man to reach the international level in Football and Taekwondo for France.
A year after his U19 World Cup exploits, Pasqualini left his native land to move to North America, continuing his education and American Football career in Canada. He first joined the college Cégep de Chicoutimi located in Saguenay, Quebec. During his year at the institution, the Frenchman played for their Football team, the Cougars. Following his time at Cégep de Chicoutimi, Philéas enrolled at the prestigious McGill University. Once again, the Running Back continued to play football during his time there, playing for the McGill Redmen (Now Redbirds), whose alumni include current NFL Lineman and Super Bowl Winner Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.
Pasqualini eventually returned to France, still determined to play the game he loved. He re-joined the French Division 2 team Iron Mask de Cannes in 2018. While playing for the club, the FFFA announced that he would take part in the 2019 Canadian Football League (CFL) Global Combine. After an impressive stay at his hometown team on both sides of the ball, the former McGill man departed for the reigning champions of the Ligue Élite de Football Américain, the top division of American Football, the Thonon Black Panthers in 2020. Unfortunately, the global Covid-19 pandemic forced the FFFA to cancel the already-delayed season before the Cannes native had a chance to play for the champions. This was the second season in a row distributed by the pandemic, with Philéas’ last season in Cannes also being cancelled, albeit halfway through.
After being forced to miss the last season and a half, Pasqualini finally had a chance to play again in 2021, but it meant leaving his homeland again. However, he would be remaining in Europe this time, joining the Panthers Wrocław in the newly established European League of Football (ELF). The Running Back was contacted by the Polish club just two weeks before the beginning of the season via Europlayers. Initially, the Frenchman was unsure. But, after talking to a friend of his who was previously at the club, he was sold on the city and the team and confirmed the move.
After joining and settling in with the team, Philéas declared that the Panthers were one of the best organizations in Europe, not just on the field but in all aspects. Despite the crucial attacking trio of Pasqualini, Quarterback Lukas O’Connor and fellow Running Back Mark Herndon all signing late, the Panthers’ Offence hit the ground running during the first half of the ELF season, something Philéas credits to the team’s Offensive Coordinator Kuba Samuel.
As of this article, Panthers Wrocław currently sits 2nd in the Division North, with Pasqualini collecting 308 rushing yards in 44 attempts and scoring three touchdowns.
An enormous thank you to Philéas Pasqualini for contributing to this article. He has been highly accommodating and supportive of our site and has been genuinely a great guy. We really appreciate the effort he put into this.
If you are interested in watching him play, sign up for the European League of Football Season Pass or Game Pass on their website, europeanleague.football
Pasqualini will next be in action on AUGUST 15th, as the Panthers Wroclaw take on the Frankfurt Galaxy at 12pm BST/1pm CET/7am EST.