Friday, 5 June 2009

Bonjour Monsieur Tigana

Despite winning the Turkish Cup last year managing Besiktas, Frenchmen Jean Tigana left the club before the end of the season. His two years or so at Besiktas had seen him win 2 Fortis Turkish Cups in three seasons but the club lost out to the Champions League to their rivals Fenerbahce.

Perhaps more familiar for his time managing Fulham, a club he joined in 2000, and his brand of football was a breath of fresh air in the Championship and with a strong run of results the club returned to the top league. Despite that his tenure though lasted only three years and his departure in April 2003 lead to a series of legal issues between the club and the Frenchman. In the end it was Tigana who won his case for wrongful dismissal which had followed on Fulham dropping their original charges against their former manager.

Curiously his name was floated for the Republic of Ireland job and attracted betting with his odds shortening considerably at one point.

As a player he came into the game relatively late as well only joining Toulon in 1975 at the age of 20 after years holding down a variety of jobs.

On the field of play Jean Tigana always looked like he was too small to play professional soccer with his jersey always hanging off him. But once he got into motion his skill, agility and deftness was nothing short of impressive and his litheness allowed him swerve and skip out of the fiercest of tackles. In an era of French football that may never be repeated Tigana played his part alongside Michel Platini, Luis Fernandez, Alain Giresse, Marius Tresor; Bernard Genghini, Gerard Janvion, Patrick Battiston and Dominique Rocheteau.

During his eight years on the national ream France reached the semi-finals of the 1982 World Cup in Spain; won the EURO 1984 in Paris against Spain and took third place in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, where they knocked out Brazil in the quarter finals in Guadalajara. Indeed on a warm summer afternoon in the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid, Billy Bingham's XI got a taste of the French wizards as well as they made light work of Norman Whiteside and company winning by four goals to one.

Rocheteau that day was alive and the woodwork stopped a deserved hat trick with poor Pat Jennings having little chance with any of the goals. As Northern Ireland set out for home after the 1982 adventure France went on to play the semi finals in Sevilla against West Germany – as they were known at the time. That semi final became an epic and memorable one for a variety of reasons.

Amidst the playmakers that night the little Mali born Frenchman proved to be the engine of a relentless French onslaught that probably deserved a victory against the Teutonic neighbours on effort alone. The momentum though of the match turned when German goalkeeper Harald "Toni" Schumacher violently crashed into Patrick Battiston after about fifty minutes leaving the Frenchman sprawled out on the edge of the penalty box. With Battiston stretchered off and momentum swinging away from them the match ran on to penalties leaving Tigana and company walking off the pitch empty handed.

His club playing career continued until 1991 until Tigana decided to prepare for management and coaching Olympique Lyonnais was his first experience as trainer during 1993/94 season. In his second season he took charge of the club and reached second place in the League Championship. At the club Tigana nurtured young talent some of whom have become household names now such as Florian Maurice and Ludovic Giuly. That year Olympique Lyonnais also reached the final in the League Cup making it the best season in the club’s history at that time.

In 1995/96 Tigana took over AS Monaco and his first months were disastrous as Monaco lost in the first round of the UEFA Cup to Leeds United, the team then were knocked out of the French Cup in the third round and in the quarterfinals of the League Cup. Nevertheless Tigana’s ideas eventually take hold and in the last 19 games of the season they lose only once. With the next season seeing the arrival of some new faces including John Collins the club climbs to first place in the French league early on and stay there until the end of the season. In the UEFA Cup, Monaco reached the semi-finals only to fall to mighty Inter Milan.

By then the names on the Monaco team included Emmanuel Petit, Thierry Henry, David Trezeguet, Viktor Ikpeba, and Fabien Barthez.

Bonjour Monsieur Tigana!

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