Robert Herbin and the armband of Rachid Mekhloufi

Died this week at the age of 81, AS Saint-Étienne legend Robert Herbin has had a strong impact on French football with his career, achieving a very good career as a player and then a coach. Before being nicknamed the Sphynx, the “redhead” was a teammate of the Algerian strategist Rachid Mekhloufi to whom he had great admiration. He even inherited his captain’s armband during the 1967-1968 season in a very specific context. La Gazette du Fennec tells you about this episode in the career of the extraordinary player that was Rachid Mekhloufi!

When he arrived in Saint-Etienne in 1957, Robert Herbin was still a very young 18 year old when Rachid Mekhloufi was, already at 21, the rising star who offers theAS Saint-Etienne his first title of champion of France in this season 1956-57 (where he smacked 25 goals) but also the world military championship to France in Buenos Aires (3-1 against Argentina with a double of Mekhloufi).

The following year, in April 1958, Rachid Mekhloufi (4 selections) with amazement turns his back on the French team of the coach Albert Batteux and the World Cup in Sweden to join the glorious FLN Team in Tunis. He abandoned his teammates at Saint-Etienne, who plunged back into D2 for a season, and traveled the world for the Algerian cause with his brothers in the Revolution. After independence in 1962, it was thanks to his trainer Jean Snella that he returned to Forez after a few months on the Servette in Geneva.

Mekhloufi thus reconnects with the Stéphane Cauldron and his teammate Robert Herbin, who became part of the Greens, with Aimé Jacquet, but also of the tricolor selection of which he became the captain. Under the orders of Jean Snella, Mekhloufi, converted playmaker, shines again upon his return in December 1962 while ASSE is in D2. With 15 goals in 20 games, he helped the club finish D2 French Champion and created the feat the following season of being crowned D1 French Champion again for the 1963/64 season. A promotion who wins the championship is a first in the history of French football. Apostle of offensive and collective football, Jean Snella transmitted his faith to his gifted student whose talent he admired: ” Rachid, he testified during his lifetime, is part of the breed of scholars. They have nothing to learn. They invent football. For coaches, these are pearls. “And Robert Herbin, Mekhloufi’s teammate and his “accomplice” during the glorious years of the Greens, added: ” Rachid is incomparable by his paws. He knows how to catch all of his people at fault by attitudes, primers, races where “this is not true”. Creating the unexpected is the secret of great footballers. Rachid is the king of the unexpected.

foreign license mekhloufi asse 1967

After two titles of Champion of France gleaned in 1964 and 1967, Jean Snella decides to leave ASSE and leaves his post to Albert Batteux whose mission is to ensure the continuity of his remarkable work. But Rachid Mekhloufi, who is the undisputed star of the Stéphane team and the emblematic captain, does not have a very positive view of the arrival at the helm of the former coach of the Reims stadium and expresses it a little too openly in The team where he regrets the departure of his mentor.

Batteux removes the armband from Mekhloufi to give it to Herbin

Named best player in the French championship in 1967, Mekhloufi is humiliated by Albert Batteux who decides to remove the captain’s armband to entrust it to Robert Herbin. ” Rachid, explains Batteux, harbored the same feelings for Snella as Raymond Kopa towards me. (…) I understood it and did not take it into account. He had also returned from vacation late, had put on weight and was playing only on his talent, which was immense, without bringing to training all the seriousness and all the rigor that one could expect from the team captain.“. The responsibility of the team in the field then changes to Robert Herbin. Because according to Batteux, ” the captain is not necessarily the best player. It’s a symbol. He is the one who best represents the team, who coaches it and who must be exemplary in all respects. “.

mekhloufi batteux crisis 1967

The episode then caused a great stir in the French sports press of the time. Some believe that the former coach of Blue, Albert Batteux, had not digested Mekhloufi’s defection for the 1958 World Cup. He thus avenged himself in his own way. Others went so far as to imply that Mekhloufi saw himself deprived of his status as captain because he was Algerian and that it was not conceivable that the captain of a French team as famous as the oneAS Saint-Etienne may be of Algerian nationality. It is therefore Robert Herbin, captain of the 1966 French World Cup Team, who inherits the captain’s armband from AS Saint-Etienne, reigning French Champion.

Mekhloufi slams the door after a double in the final of the Coupe de France (2-1)!

This episode deeply upsets Rachid Mekhloufi who will live his last season with ASSE which he decides to leave – in apotheosis – by offering his club the first double Cup-Championship in its history. His last game under the colors ofAS Saint-Etienne, May 12, 1968 in Colombes, is simply sumptuous. In the final of the Coupe de France against Bordeaux, the Algerian slams a double (2-1) and then leaves. ” Look at the fate of someone who is upright and honest. Not only do I score a volley on a golden ball given by the redhead, but in addition I shoot twice the penalty: I score a first time but the referee makes me withdraw because he did not have hissed. On that day, fate told me “thank you Rachid for your career!”. That day, I had proof that God exists. But I didn’t want to attend the party. I ran away after the game, I didn’t watch the TV show and I didn’t go to the Crazy Horse. I also didn’t attend the parade in Saint-Etienne. They looked for me. But from the moment the dish broke, it’s over. That’s why I left the following season. I didn’t blame the Stéphanois supporters. Rocher (the president) didn’t know how to defend myself, Batteux didn’t know how to be above all that. I would have liked to have finished my career in Saint-Etienne and retrain as a trainer or trainer there. Maybe now I’ll be a Greens coach (laughs) “Explained, much later, the strategist Rachid Mekhloufi who thus paved the way for his friend Robert Herbin. In 1972, the latter became a coach, succeeding Albert Batteux. By achieving the perfect amalgamation between youth and experience, he built one of the best European teams by bringing ASSE to the final of the 1976 European Cup. The “Sphinx” participated in fifteen of the seventeen national titles won by ASSE, between 1957 and 1983. Disappeared in April 2020, it left an unequaled prize list at ASSE. As for Rachid Mekhloufi, who built his legend as a player (4 French Champion titles and 1 French Cup), he wrote his own coaching history with Algeria and today lives peacefully in retirement in Tunisia.

Mekhloufi shines in the final and then shines by his absence on TV!


Results at the break, Dijon, Rennes, Angers and Montpellier at the party

Sunday January 19, 2020 06:04 PM – Article written by La Rdaction – Comment on this article

In the early evening, many goals were scored. After equalizing against Angers, Rouen was disillusioned and is currently leading 1-3. Athletico Marseille can regret these goals conceded against Rennes via Hamari Traoré and Raphinha.

Direct coupe-de-france

In the duel between Dijon and Nimes, it is the locals who lead thanks to a Cadiz goal from the penalty spot. Caen is in great difficulty with the 3 goals scored by Montpellier and the expulsion of Jessy Pi.

French Cup live matches

Sunday January 19, 2020

5:15 p.m.Half time


‘ (League 1)

23 ‘T. Savanier (sp)

37 ‘G. Laborde

40 ‘A. Delort



” (Ligue 2)

43 ‘J. Pi

5:15 p.m.Half time


‘ (League 1)

18 ‘J. Cadiz (sp)

1 – 0


‘ (League 1)

5:15 p.m.Half time


” (National 2 Group B)

13 ‘Sidibé

1 – 3


‘ (League 1)

5 ‘R. Alioui

19 ‘F. El Melali

23 ‘F. El Melali

5:15 p.m.Half time

Athletico Marseille

‘(National 3 Corse – Mediterranee)

0 – 2


‘ (League 1)

25 ‘H. Traoré

45 ‘Raphinha

9:05 p.m.To come up


” (Ligue 2)

Paris SG

‘ (League 1)



Etienne Mattler, intractable defender of Sochaux, the Blues and the fatherland

Every week with RetroNews, the BNF press site, back to a sports story as told by the press of the time. This Saturday: Etienne Mattler, said “the sweeper”, captain of the French team and resistant.

“Pillar of French defense” : so the newspaper dated May 26, 1934, he presented Etienne Mattler on the eve of the first match of the French soccer team at the World Cup against Austria. Pillar, the term is well chosen. Mattler honors Austria 22-1 defeate selection to the French team, where he started four years earlier. We nicknamed this left back in size which inspired respect for his opponents (a good 1.80 meters, more than 80 kilos), the “sweeper”. That’s to say if his style matched his physique. In 1934, Mattler contested his second World Cup. He will play a third in 1938. Few are the French who have participated three times in the most prestigious of international competitions. In total, Mattler will compile, in ten years of blue career, 46 selections (including 14 as captain) which will constitute for a long time a record.

Originally from Belfort, Etienne Mattler has never, professionally speaking, pushed more to the East than Troyes, where he played at Estac between 1927 and 1929, according to the website of the French Federation. Other sources assure that he never ventured beyond Strasbourg, where he would have played these two seasons. Previously, he had held the defense of US Belfort between 1921 and 1927. But his club will remain forever FC Sochaux, where he played from 1929 to … 1947. So owned by Peugeot (where Mattler worked before becoming one of the first French professional footballers), the Doubist club was one of the leaders of the 1930s. With him, Mattler won two championships (1935, 1938) and the Coupe de France (1937). In 1935, Sochaux won in Paris against Racing in the Coupe de France. “I never doubted our victory, reacts the captain of the victors in the columns of the Excelsior February 4. No never ! Even when the Parisians led the rest, then in the second half when the brand had two goals to one in their favor, the idea of ​​defeat never crossed our minds. “It was with a victory that Sochaux wanted to mark his first visit to Paris and, with a good exhibition, to thank the public of the capital for this warm sympathy that he has always shown us.”

March 26, 1935, Match devotes a full page to Mattler. Where we learn that he had to become a cyclist, much to the despair of his father. “This guy who was a complete athlete, who practiced with equal happiness the boxing, the slipper and the football, actually nourished a passionate love for the” little queen “, to the great despair of his father, moreover. His first bike, he bought 80 francs. But he told his father that he had been given it. In secret, he began to compete in a few races at the Belfort velodrome. A real class allowed him to compete against a few stars. […] And we were going to “push” him definitively into the bike, when he abandoned him forever under very sad circumstances. A fortnight before his departure for the regiment, in fact, his brother killed himself on a bicycle ”, says the newspaper. French cycling was going to lose a promising pistard, football to gain an intractable defender.

If he is tough on the field, if his technique is rough and his strategy rather simplistic – to clear the ball as far as possible – it is in life the reverse of what he shows on the field, writes Match. “His nature is fundamentally good, and I don’t know a boy who is friendlier, more frank, more affable, even sweeter than he is.” Qualities that probably do not jump in the eyes of opposing attackers. “He could hurt while playing. Of course ! But involuntarily. Because he is too strong for us to be able to feel a shock with him. “ The newspaper recalls a match in which Mattler was loaded in pitbull mode of a Swiss “Small, light and subtle […] who could not avoid the charges of his adversary. One of them was particularly powerful and poor Trello went to roll on the ground like a pebble in the bed of a river. Mattler ran to him and raised him: “Excuse me old man,” he said, “I hadn’t seen you.” […] Before the last game against Sweden, he said to me: “You cannot believe how sorry I am when I read in the press that I was brutal during a match.” The same continued: “It seems that these Swedes are strong … Vein! We will be able to play the game without being hissed if they can stand up.” “ The man was hard-pressed, it is said that he had played almost an entire match with the ankle ligaments torn off.

The “sweeper” also knows how to be rascal, as he tells Match April 6, 1937: “You can imagine that after traveling the world for so long, anecdotes come to mind. I could fill a book with it. There is one I want to tell you about. I can do it today and you will see that it is almost a confession. This happened in 1935, during the match against Italy in Rome. Our opponents led by two goals to zero and continued to dominate. Llense could not parry another shot and the ball was going to go into the net, when coldly I stopped it with my hand and released immediately. The referee, a poorly placed Dutchman, saw nothing but fire. The Roman public made a dreadful din without obtaining any sanction. As for our team who could have been discouraged by this new goal, it was exhilarated and I believe it was thanks to my little trick that we were honorably defeated, by two to one. “

In his “Confessions” at Match, April 6, Mattler expressed his desire to thank the leaders of FC Sochaux by offering them the Coupe de France. It’s done a month later. And Etienne Mattler shows his joy by coaxing the trophy on a full page photo of Match May 11.

The Marseillaise from Naples

“Who is the ball player who most honors France and French football? Do not search. His name is on everyone’s lips. He comes under all feathers: Etienne Mattler, captain of FC Sochaux and the national team “, begins the day December 13, 1938, after an honorable defeat (0-1) for the French team in Naples against Italy. “He is not a cockroach, but he loves his homeland. He wants her to be strong, triumphant … What is wonderful about him is that he knows how to share his feelings with his comrades. He radiates guts, willpower and all the virtues of heart which are so important in an internations section. […] This one hundred percent Frenchman has forced the admiration of the Italians themselves by his moral qualities. “ Illustrated by a gesture including “No one spoke because they were ignored”. “As he was in a cafe with fellow students the evening of the meeting, he understood that Italians were paying their heads and laughing because the music had only played a few bars of the French national anthem in the afternoon. “Ah! Exclaims Mattler, you have not given us the Marseillaise. Well ! You’ll hear it … In a hostile atmosphere, Mattler stood up and straight like an I, looking up and round, he attacked the Marseillaise taken up in chorus by his team-mates … The Neapolitans are still amazed by so much audacity and male courage. “

Mobilized in 1939, then demobilized in the same year after the defeat of France, he joined the Resistance. This did not prevent him from competing in January 1942 between selections of players from the free zone and the occupied zone, as reported West Eclair.

Cited by the team in a long paper dedicated to Etienne Mattler en 2016, historian Marie-Antoine Vacelette clarified that he“Got involved very early, in February 1942, when an organized Resistance was set up in Belfort. Mattler made intelligence and he was in contact with the English secret services present in occupied France. In December 1943, he also recovered weapons which had been parachuted by the Allies. ”

Read also All the articles in the Retro Sports section

Denounced and arrested by the Gestapo in February 1944, he was detained for more than three months. Despite the torture, he does not admit his membership of the Resistance. “Pduring interrogations, to give himself courage and to taunt the Germans, he kept a tracksuit of the French team on him … “, told his daughter to the Team. Fearing a new arrest, he fled to Switzerland in May 1944, then returned to France in August and joined the Itime army of De Lattre de Tassigny, with which he participated in the liberation of his native region.

September 5, 1944, Humanity suggests that Etienne Mattler is dead. “A Sport-Libre activist [une organisation de sportifs résistants, ndlr] fallen approximately two months before the release had as a cellmate a common right which affirmed to him that Mattler had been shot by the Boches. […] “This terrible news is not, however, a certainty and we can only wait in anguish for a confirmation or a denial that would fill us with joy.”

Combat of the same day also evokes the death of the captain of the French team, without accrediting the information. The newspaper recalls that Alfred Nakache, “the Auschwitz swimmer” is also reported dead. A witness reportedly saw his grave in Silesia, where he was deported. “Some rumors already belie Mattler’s death”, specifies the newspaper, which continues: “Despite these claims, we hope that our two beautiful champions, the glories of French sport, are still alive.”

“Mattler is alive and well. After being interned for many weeks, he regained his freedom and fought, like marshal-des-logis, in the ranks of the army of De Lattre de Tassigny “, correct it Southwest patriot October 30, 1944. Alfred Nakache did not die in Silesia: he reappeared in Toulouse in the spring of 1945.

Continuation and end of the story. After the Liberation, Etienne Mattler found his dear FC Sochaux as coach-player but was thanked after the club’s descent in 1946. It was this year that he played his last professional match. He is then 40 years old. He kept a soccer cleat, as a player-player of a Lorraine amateur club for two years. He then opened a tobacco bar in Belfort, his hometown, and ended his life as the owner of a tobacco bar in Franche-Comté. He died on March 23, 1986, at the age of 80. A Belfort stadium bears his name.

Gilles Dhers


Saint-Étienne wins a place in the final by eliminating Rennes

Published on : Modified :

Saint-Etienne qualified for the final of the Coupe de France where he will face Paris SG on April 25, beating Rennes 2-1.

AS Saint-Etienne qualified Thursday, March 5 for the final of the Coupe de France by defeating Stade Rennais (2-1).

In front of their audience, Claude Puel’s men started the meeting well, but a foul by Saliba in his area at the half hour mark offered his opponents a penalty kick, transformed into strength by Mbaye Niang.

Ten minutes later, Loïs Diony dropped a ball over Kolodziejczak’s head to tie the two teams at the break. The second period was less lively and Ryad Boudebouz, who entered in the 83rd minute, finally appeared after additional time to send a shot from the left in Rennes’ goals.

“Everyone is happy. My feeling is the feeling of everyone because we all struggle together. When we win this match, it’s a deliverance,” reacted the midfielder after the match. “When I score I want to cry at the moment. I’m happy”.

“It was a full match in which we gave ourselves the means to be efficient and I think that the qualification is deserved. I am very happy for the group. Finally, it turns in the right direction with this goal in time additional, because lately, we have not been rewarded. On some good games, we did not deserve to lose. This is the way to go, “also said his coach Claude Puel.

A first final since 1982

After three semi-finals lost for thirty years against Montpellier (1990), Nantes (1993) and Paris Saint-Germain (2015), it is the first time since 1982 that the Greens have reached the final of the competition where they will find their beast black, the PSG who qualified Wednesday by winning 5-1 in Lyon.

In 1982, it is besides in front of the Parisian club, of another time certainly, that ASSE, led by a certain Michel Platini, had bowed on penalties (2-2, 5-6 tab ). In the quarter-finals of the Coupe de la Ligue, at the Parc des Princes, in January, ASSE bowed against the Parisian ogre with the final score of 6-1.

Saint-Etienne, in great difficulty in the championship (16th, with only two points ahead of the dam, Nîmes), had not won since February 13 and its quarter-final against Epinal (2-1, National, 3rd div.).

But before the final, on April 25, the Greens must have changed their precarious situation in Ligue 1 where they clearly play their survival in the elite, starting with Sunday against Bordeaux.

With AFP and Reuters


Mbappé offers himself a hat-trick against Lyon and sends PSG to the final

Published on : Modified :

Led by a Kylian Mbappé of the big evenings, PSG won, Wednesday evening, his ticket for the final of the Coupe de France by winning largely 5-1 in Lyon, reduced to ten. The Parisians will face the title holder Rennes or Saint-Etienne, opposed this Thursday at the Geoffroy-Guichard stadium.

PSG, supported in particular by a hat-trick from Kylian Mbappé, outclassed OL on Wednesday (5-1) to qualify for the Coupe de France final, a week before their 8th final Champions League return against Borussia Dortmund.

A flattering score because it was Lyon who opened the scoring in a very rhythmic start to the match, following a loss of ball by Layvin Kurzawa in his camp, which benefited the striker Rhodanien Karl Toko Ekambi author of ” a perfect back center for Martin Terrier (1-0, 11th).

The Parisian side managed to be forgiven barely a few seconds later. On receiving a corner kick, Kurzawa managed an unstoppable header … but the goal of equalization was “stung” in extremis by Mbappé, who knew how to deflect the ball at the last moment (1-1, 14th) .

With more variety in the game, alternating between short passes and changing wings, the Parisians then managed to take the lead without managing to make a difference.

In the second half, on an innocuous action, Marçal committed the irreparable: a hand in the area, synonymous with second yellow card and penalty for PSG.

Neymar, the exercise specialist, was not asked to transform it and give the advantage to his own (2-1, 64th).

The starting point of an offensive festival of Mbappé which offered itself a hat-trick by also registering the third and fifth goals of its team (1-5, 90 + 3). The Spanish Pablo Sarabia contributed to the building (1-4, 82nd).

“It was a tough match, at the level of the Champions League, said after the game Thomas Tuchel, the coach of PSG. It was a solid, serious, concentrated performance. We fought in duels, maybe “However, we lacked a little speed. The result is deserved and fantastic. Five goals at Lyon is extraordinary. It gives a lot of confidence. Kylian (Mbappé) and Neymar are very strong together”

Dortmund is notified.

With AFP


Lyon vs PSG live stream details, schedule, French Cup details

Olympique Lyonnais will host Paris Saint-Germain in the French Cup (Coupe de France) semifinal on 4 March 2020. Lyon recently beaten Juventus in the first leg of the 16 Champions League clash. Meanwhile, PSG was beaten 2-1 by Borussia Dortmund in the same competition. Both teams will move to make the Coupe de France final when they line up at the Groupama stadium on Wednesday. Here are the details and updates of the Lyon vs PSG live streaming.

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Lyon vs PSG live streaming details and preview of French Cup

All eyes will be on Neymar and Co. who enter the clash against Lyon as net favorites to move on to the final. However, Rudi Garcia’s boys will fill up with confidence as they aim to cause discomfort by beating PSG in front of home support at the Groupama stadium on Wednesday. It is likely that Thomas Tuchel will field a good start to make the final. Can Neymar help his team get to the next round in the Lyon vs PSG game?

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Neymar, Cavani and Mbappe included in the PSG 20-man team for the French Cup

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Lyon vs PSG live stream details and match schedule

Date – Wednesday 4 March 2020
Kick-off time – 1:40 AMT (Thursday March 5, 2020)
Stadium – Groupama Stadium

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Lyon vs PSG live streaming details

The semifinal of the Lyon vs PSG French Cup (Coupe de France) will not be broadcast on any streaming platform in India. Fans can tune in to Eurosport 2 France, Eurosport Player France, France 2, Free, Molotov if they want to watch the live streaming of the match in Europe. Bet365 is also streaming the game Lyon vs PSG live for all official account holders.

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PSG: scent of tension after the defeat at Dortmund

If the peculiarity of the big clubs is to always be there, no doubt: the Paris-SG is one of them. Two hours after the defeat (1-2) of the team coached by Thomas Tuchel in Dortmund, in the round of 16 first leg of the Champions League, the brother of a Presnel Kimpembé aligned for the first time of the season in a defense to three central, which did not make a hit on Wednesday, attacked the German coach on Instagram in unambiguous words: “Go fuck your mother, son of a bitch!” Thereafter, we distinctly hear the word “joke” dropped twice by the same, as if to diminish the scope of the message. Finally, it happened anyway.

The Parisian environment rocked somewhat into chaos after the game. According to what we wrote before the match, Neymar was perfectly able to play since February 7, the date of his return to training after a “Chondrocostal lesion” (the Parisian club is scrupulously cited) received six days earlier against the Montpellier Hérault in Paris. The fact that he did not play a minute before Dortmund was therefore a somewhat superstitious political choice (Neymar had missed all or part of the last two knockout stages of Paris-SG, meeting sanctioned by elimination ) and, in the general opinion and especially of his, the Brazilian was not in condition Tuesday, slow, at the wrong time. “It’s hard to stay four games without playing, found the player. Unfortunately, it was not my choice, it was something of the club, the doctors, they were the ones who made the decision and I didn’t like it. We had a lot of discussions on this. I wanted to play. I felt good but the club was afraid. And I’m the one who suffers in the end. “ A little corporate speech but it must be understood that at this point, since it was he who dragged himself before the cameras on the ground, he does not care.


Useless to put the decision on the back of Tuchel, that Neymar carefully avoids to quote: the German made understand on almost all the tones that he would have liked to align it in Lyon (on February 9) or in Dijon in the Cup (February 12), or even in Amiens on Saturday, to gradually re-athletize his striker. So you have to look at the side of the “club” (sports director Leonardo, who must speak urgently on this) or “doctors”. Last but not least, while Neymar lit the match in the mixed zone, the Belgian defender Thomas Meunier explained to his compatriots the last hour that he had not been made aware of the fact that a yellow card in Dortmund would prevent him from returning, which did not fail to happen. A slightly light approach from the technical staff and a huge rock in Tuchel’s garden, even if the player could have asked himself the question.

In short: a low-noise crisis, all the more pointless since the result of the first leg leaves the door open to a qualification after the return match on March 11. There remains the impression left by a slightly intense, strangely worn Paris-SG. And overtaken by a form of inhibition to say the least. “We lack a little confidence, I have the same impression as you [les journalistes], conceded Tuchel. We played today with too much fear of making a mistake. It’s not good, we have to think about finding solutions. If you think too much about not making mistakes, you make too many mistakes. We lost our confidence with too easy balloons. I do not know why.” His predecessor, Unai Emery, can probably help him a bit: it’s been the same story since 2017.

Grégory Schneider


May 4, 1949: the Torino team decimated in the plane crash

Every week with RetroNews, the BNF press site, a look back at a history of sport as told by the press at the time. This Saturday, the air disaster that decimated the team of the “Grande Torino”, May 4, 1949.

“The players of the best Italian football team are killed in a plane crash near Turin. The 31 passengers are charred ”, title in one Humanity May 5, 1949. The accident took place in the town of Superga, near Turin. “The plane from Portugal found itself in difficulty near the basilica which stands on a height”, informs the newspaper. The altimeter would then have frozen and the aircraft struck the bell tower of the basilica before crashing to the ground and catching fire.

Torino was the breeding ground for the Italian national team, double reigning world champion (1934, 1938) recalls fight. “Torino, Italian champion for the 1947-1948 season, after a long-standing undecided fight with Milan, was poised to win the title again. Among the victims is the Frenchman Emile Bongiorni, several times selected in the French team, who wore the colors of the Italian club since the start of the 1947-1948 season: he was a player whose ardor and passion had made the popularity. “ Another Frenchman, Roger Grava, died in the accident.

Dawn May 6 provides details of the cause of the accident: “The aircraft could not land on the Turin aerodrome made impassable by the recent rains. The plane then headed for Milan, but its disordered altimeter indicated a height of 2,000 meters when in reality it only flew at 600 meters. The poor visibility did not allow the pilot to see the dome of the Church of Superga which he struck at a speed of 400 km / h “ The newspaper focuses on the personality of the two French players who died in the drama. “Bongiorni,” Milo ” [son surnom, ndlr] hid in his great physical means an innate sense of football. Dangerous shooter, he had no equal to shake up a defense. […] The same size, the same power, Roger Grava also distinguished himself by his strong personality, both physical and moral. In Roubaix, his last club, with which he won the French championship in 1947, his services were unanimously appreciated. ”

“All of Italy is grieving after the tragic end of the Turin football team”, title Tonight May 6, 1949. The newspaper collected the testimony of a former “Milo” Bongiorni teammate at Racing, Ernest Vaast. “He was not just a teammate. He was a friend to me. We started racing together in 1942. And together we played for the national team. […] He had signed a two-year contract with Torino, but I know he was doing everything he could to join us again next season. For him, for his memory, we have one more reason to win Sunday against Lille. “ Far from this emotion, the newspaper delivers sordid details on the identification of bodies: “At the Turin morgue, it is difficult to recognize, in these horribly mutilated corpses, the magnificent athletes who, on the green lawns of the stadiums, made so many football enthusiasts vibrate. Relatives parade endlessly in front of the victims in order to identify them, here recognizing an alliance, there an old scar. ”

In its next day edition, Tonight publishes a full page of photos taken at Superga. They bear witness to the violence of the crash with a wing here, the propeller elsewhere, an engine in the outbuildings of the basilica and the grief of those close to the missing (Ossola’s mother, another player’s brother).

Tonight May 8 announced on the front page that the next day, during the final of the French Cup which will oppose them in Lille, “Racing players will mourn in Colombes their former teammate,” Milo “Bongiorni”. A photo shows two players: “After removing their equipment from the club’s headquarters on rue Ampère, Moreel and Vaast attach the black armband that was given to them by the managers on their jerseys.”

fight May 9 announces that the remains of Emile Bongiorni will be returned to Paris the same day. His former Racing teammates paid him homage by winning 5-2 in the Coupe de France final against Lille.

“Yesterday morning, the Parisian sportsmen went to the Parc des princes to pay a last tribute to Bongiorni and Grava whose bodies were exposed under the presidential tribune transformed into a burning chapel, recounts fight May 13. The Racing players taking turns mounted an honor guard around the body of their unfortunate comrade while players from the Italian US surrounded the remains of Grava. “

Seven months after the disaster, Paris Presse-l’Intransigeant from January 13, 1950 title “Superga is fading. Italy will go to Rio by plane. ” Understand: the national team will fly to Brazil to compete in the World Cup of which it is title holder. The calendar did not leave him any other option says the newspaper, “Highlighting the very short time between the end of the Italian championship (May 23) and the start of the World Cup in the first half of June.” The trauma of the Superga crash has not been erased: “However, it has already been established that the trip will be made in several groups.”

Continuation of the story. The Torino reserve team plays the last four games of the 1948-1949 championship and wins the title before Inter. It is the sixth and final coronation of the Grande Torino, as the best Italian team was nicknamed, national champion in 1928, 1943, 1946, 1947, 1948 and 1949, cup winner in 1936 and 1943 before losing its luster. The Torino is slowly waning, a situation all the more cruel as the big local rival, Juventus, is gaining momentum. The club experienced a revival allowing it to offer itself a new Scudetto in 1976. In the 90s, in the grip of big financial difficulties, it made the elevator between first and second divisions. In recent years, Torino FC has not shone or particularly dark, regularly finishing in the middle of the table. The Derby della Mole is a perfect illustration of the chasm that separates the two teams located on the banks of the Po since the Torino have won against the Old Lady only once since 1995. The saying goes, however, that the club of the inhabitants of Turin remains the Torino when Juventus is that of the rest of Italy.

Since the Superga drama, football has also been regularly marked by air disasters that decimate entire teams. In 1958, eight of the “Busby Babes”, the hypertalentent class of Manchester United trained by Matt Busby, die in the plane crash at Munich airport while returning from Belgrade where they qualified for the Champions Club Cup semi-finals. The Danish team, on July 16, 1960, those of the Bolivian club The Strongest, on September 26, 1969, of Tashkent, on August 11, 1979 also paid a heavy price. On December 8, 1987, 43 people including the 16 players from Alianza Lima, one of the most famous Peruvian clubs, perished after their plane crashed into the sea. In 1993, the entire team from Zambia disappeared in the accident of the military plane which took him to Senegal for the World Cup qualifiers. Last collective disaster to date, that which bereaved the Brazilian club Chapecoense, November 28, 2016: 19 players who were going to play the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana in Colombia die, three survive.

Gilles Dhers