“I’m never going to do that again” – Frantz Pierrot on bizarre red card

Frantz Pierrot’s League of Ireland debut is undoubtedly a game he won’t forget in a hurry with the Haitian striker netting twice before being sent off in bizarre circumstances as his new side Athlone Town started their 2023 campaign with a 3-1 win away to Midland rivals Longford Town.

Pierrot was one of the numerous overseas additions to the Athlone squad during the off-season. However, it appears as though the former US college player could be a big hit in the League of Ireland First Division following an ultra-impressive debut last Saturday night.

“It was one to remember for sure, it didn’t go exactly the way I wanted it to go because of the red card but a great debut to remember”, said Pierrot.

Having opened the scoring on 26 minutes, Pierrot put Athlone 3-1 ahead on 64 minutes with a fierce volley after being left totally unmarked at the back post. However, just moments later the Athlone Town hero received a second yellow card having lifted his jersey above his head in celebration of the goal. Pierrot admits he was unaware this was a bookable offence.

“I’m never going to do that again, that’s for sure, I didn’t know about it (the rule) before, I was aware you can’t take your shirt off but the over the head one I didn’t know about it.”

Despite the red card, Athlone Town were able to see out the 3-1 victory, a win that will boost expectations around the club following a strong end to last season where they won 6 of their last 11 league matches. Despite being new to the group, Pierrot confirmed he was made very aware of what the local derby against Longford Town meant to both sets of supporters.

“The coaches made it very clear of the rivalry between the two so we knew coming in it was a game we must win, we must perform in so it was a great start for us for the season coming and it sets up the standard and shows that we can play.”

“The fans made it even better, it was very loud so it was a great atmosphere but we knew coming in it was a game we must win.”

Having previously been on the books of MLS club Houston Dynamo, a switch to Athlone Town in the League of Ireland First Division may not seem like the most obvious of moves but Pierrot explains how a connection with the Westmeath side via an old club coach saw the deal come to fruition.

“I played for a lot of clubs in the States and for universities and from there I got drafted to Houston Dynamo in the MLS. I had some connection between Athlone Town and an old coach at one of my clubs and when I heard Athlone were interested we kind of made it happen and now I’m here.”

Born in Haiti before moving to the US aged 11, Pierrot’s brother Frantzdy has starred in the Champions League for Israeli side Maccabi Haifa this season with the full international for Haiti recording assists in games against European giants Juventus and PSG. As for Frantz, the glitz and glam of venues like the Parc De Princes must seem like a distant reality compared to life in the second tier of Irish football.

“It’s definitely a new style I’ve noticed but it’s not really a tough decision for me, I can adapt to whatever system and the style of play so it’s not really a tough transition at all.”

“I would say it’s not the most beautiful football, it’s very direct and the type of striker I am I can adapt to that style.”

As for emulating his older brother and earning a move higher up the football pyramid off the back of a strong season with Athlone, Pierrot feels that is a process that will take care of itself if he focuses on there here and now as opposed to what may come down the line in his career.

“For me, I take things one step at a time, I really believe in the process, I came here to perform, to be professional and give my best and if things happen that I get interest from the Premier Division or somewhere else then it’s something I’ll look at but my focus is on the season I’m here for and I want to give my best and perform and with that things will come, so I believe in the process and this is the start of that.”

Standing at just over six foot tall, Pierrot is far from the biggest of strikers in the division but the Haitian could yet prove to be one of the toughest physical challenges for defenders this season with his raw strength and strong hold-up abilities on show in Saturday’s Midlands derby. However, the 23-year-old insists there is far more to his makeup than just brute strength.

“I have a lot more to my game than just physicality but it’s what the coaches want from me, if the system we’re playing is where they want me to be that guy to attract defenders and open up space for the wingers and midfielders then I can do that, but also I have some creativity so I’m not just a target nine, I can do more than that if necessary.”

Athlone Town’s 2023 squad certainly has an interesting make up with players from nations such as El Salvador, Holland, America, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Portugal representing the Midlanders this term but Pierrot feels such multiculturalism will be a big asset to the club going forward this season.

“It’s really fun (in the dressing room), it’s always nice to have diversity, it’s something that I’m used to especially in the States in the schools that I’ve been to they always had guys from different places with different languages and cultures so it’s really nice, it brings the team together really well.”

Despite Pierrot’s absence through suspension, Athlone Town made it six points from six by beating Finn Harps 3-1 on Friday night. Pierrot admits it’s a game he regrets missing out on.

“It’s just one game I’ll be out for, it was a game I was looking forward to play in but that’s the penalty I get.”


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