At just 17 years old he’s already a national team veteran after earning his first cap in 2011.
“I’ve played football since I was seven years old. I guess in the beginning it was just a past-time, something I did for fun,” Jalabert says of his early days in the game.
“But little by little when there have been camps and since the first time I played for my country, I’ve wanted to keep going.”
Jalabert is playing alongside his compatriots at the OFC U-20 Championship in Suva, Fiji this month and says while this is his second OFC appearance – representing your country never gets old.
“Since my first selection, I’ve always tried to keep my place in the team because the sensation when we ear the shirt for our country is something that is incredible and I want to keep reliving it.
“My first competition with the national team was with U-15 for the Coupe des Regions in France in 2011,” he says.
“The majority of players who went with me to France, they’re here in this squad with me as well. That proves that for them as well, it is a pleasure to wear the shirt and keep playing for our country.”
While results haven’t exactly gone his side’s way in the competition so far, Jalabert says there is still plenty to play for.
“There’s still three games to go and we have to give our all for the honour of our country,” he says.
New Caledonia suffered an opening 1-0 loss to Vanuatu and were then undone by the hosts Fiji, going down 2-0 in their second match.
“I want to say that we haven’t achieved what we hoped to here in Fiji,” he says.
While he admits that comes down to the players’ performance on the day, he adds that there is also a certain amount of luck that comes into the mix.
“In each match you need a little bit of luck. We didn’t have that luck in the first match against Vanuatu. We had chances but we didn’t put them away, they had chances and they took them. The match against Fiji was the same.”
In his final year of high school, Jalabert will sit his Baccalaureate at the end of the school year. Leaning towards a future in ecomonics and social sciences he says taking two weeks off from school during such an important year is tough, it’s a necessary sacrifice in his eyes.
“I’ll have to go back and catch up on what I’ve missed, but coming here and representing my country is worth it.”
That’s not to say Jalabert doesn’t rate his education high on the agenda.
“When I was younger for sure I dreamed of becoming a professional footballer, who doesn’t,” he says.
“But having grown up I’ve told myself that football is more of a pleasure, and to play for my country but not to make a living off.
“If there was an option for me to play high level football while continuing my studies, of course I would think long and hard about it. For me I think it is important to consider what might happen if you don’t succeed and have a back-up plan.”
Having seen the success of Christian Karembeu and Antoine Kombouaré before him, Jalabert doesn’t doubt that New Caledonia’s football graduates have what it takes to succeed.
“It’s great when they come back to our country and give advice to young players and talk about the top level and what it demands of players,” he says.
“It allows our players to see and understand that the level here in New Caledonia is still very far away from the French and European levels – but not an unattainable target.”
Jalabert hopes to help keep his side’s dreams of a strong finish at the OFC U-20 Championship alive this evening when New Caledonia takes on Solomon Islands at ANZ Stadium at 5pm.