“There was a force that emerged”: the former Olympian captain Didier Deschamps recalls for AFP the feat of OM, winner 30 years ago of the only French football Champions League, the May 26, 1993, grateful to “draw” on this memory for his career as a coach and selector.
Q: Thirty years after the coronation, which image of this evening of May 26, 1993 (1-0) is the clearest in your mind?
A: “As an individual and certainly a bit selfishly, it is the privilege of lifting this trophy as captain. It is this moment that materializes success. But there is also everything there is The return to Marseille from the airport to the Vélodrome, the madness that could have generated… The passion, the effervescence that there can be in a club like Marseille when things are going well, that takes on very important proportions. Being able to share this happiness and this joy with all the Marseille supporters was fabulous.”
Q: How do you feel when you lift the trophy?
A: “It’s hard to put words. At the time, we didn’t have the necessary hindsight. We realize it thirty years later: it remains the first and the last success and that, we don’t don’t know at the time. There was nothing above in club competitions. We were on top of the world. At that moment, you just want to suspend time, every second that passes, every not that you can do. We didn’t realize it, even if we knew it was an achievement, because it was the great AC Milan, who had everything to win this trophy. It’s a League final champions, it’s an apotheosis.”
Q: On a personal level, what do you remember from your final?
A: “It was my first final, I played it too much in my head the days before and on the day of the match. It + ate + a little energy. I still remember the warming up and at the start of the match, I have very, very good feelings. And after a quarter of an hour, it’s as if the electricity had been cut. I say to myself + No, not today …+. I had to manage, but it served me.”
Q: Are there any ingredients in this 1993 OM that you kept afterwards?
A: “Beyond talent, there is always collective strength and what it can release. That season was not easy, we had a few holes. But each time there is had a match where you shouldn’t miss it, we didn’t miss it. There was really a strength that emerged. That’s not what makes you win, but it brings you confidence and an essential solidity at this level.”
Q: Did you keep any rituals from this finale?
A: “I had the opportunity to play a lot of them afterwards and from experience, copying and pasting can work or not work. It depends on the people, the group… The only common trait is that a final, whatever it is, is a game apart. The more the players play, the more they develop their management of external parameters to limit their psychological impact.”
Q: Is there a bit of 1993 in the Blues’ 1998 world title?
A: “Certainly. In the 1998 team, many of us have won club titles before. This famous culture of winning is a very big word but it is something perceptible on a daily basis.”
Q: To what extent does this coronation condition the rest of your career?
A: “That title brought a lot of credibility to French players in general. Many of us were subsequently approached by Italian clubs. Obviously, beating the great Milan opens a lot of doors.”
Q: From one extreme to the other in a few days, has the VA-OM affair tarnished this success in your memory?
A: “It’s always tricky to talk about that moment, even if it exists and is part of history. There were court decisions made and applied. As I have a selective memory , it suits me and I prefer to remember only the good times. These are situations that we undergo. We have to manage them, but they also build us, whatever they are.”
Q: Did the methods of Bernard Tapie or Raymond Goethals feed you for your coaching career?
A: “I have retained many things, good and bad. Things could work very well thirty years ago, but would not work at all today. All these experiences are a treasure in which I can draw from it. I never mention it to my players because it’s not their story or their life, but personally, it enriches. Certainties, we never have any, but the repetition of these experiences makes me lets you know what not to do. And that’s not bad.”
Q: What is your view of these 30 years without a title for French football clubs?
A: “Forever the first, we will remain so anyway. But it would have been very good if there could have been a second, or even a third. This is still not the case today, even if the format is totally different, with more teams. We did it at that time without thinking that 30 years later, we would be wondering who will win the next one and when. I hope he doesn’t don’t have to wait another 30 years.”
Interview by Antoine MAIGNAN