Germany, Alain Giresse knows all too well. In 1982 and 1986, the Mannschaft got in the way of the Blues in the semi-finals of the World Cup. European champion in 1984 and the embodiment of a certain idea of French game, the Bordelais refutes this romanticism often attached to his generation when his successors launch their Euro against the Germans, this June 15, in Munich.
With the legendary 1982 semi-final in Seville, your generation has gone down in history as a bunch of romantics. And since the world victory in 1998, French football has become pragmatic. What does this inspire you?
Someone will have to tell me in what sense we were romantic. And then where is the negative side of this terminology? Romanticism, what is it? The fact that one plays well with the ball, that one is carried on a game of creation and intelligence? It is not a defect.
If I summarize stupidly, performance is therefore synonymous today with commitment, intensity and violence. Would romanticism only be linked to the end result? Do you really think it was because of the romanticism that we were eliminated in the semifinals in 1982? After the famous Sevilla defeat in 1982, we were nevertheless European champions in 1984. If I understand correctly, romanticism exists when we lose, but not when we win, with the same team and the same players. In 1982, I was romantic, in 1984, I was no longer.
You don’t like this kind of categorization …
These people who stick this romantic label on us, I am not them. They don’t know how to assess us and they don’t know anything about our state of mind at the time. Do you know the prize I received at the end of the 1982 World Cup? I was voted the most combative player in the World Cup by FIFA. We think that the technical players are not committed, not determined and that they do not have this desire to impose themselves. But to impose this so-called “romantic” game, you need a leading moral commitment and a very good physical condition.
How do you explain then that we consider your generation as that of romanticism, of a seductive and offensive game, and the following ones, those who were world champions in particular, as pragmatists?
We oppose two approaches to the game, but the choices of these two strategies are they necessarily based on a deliberate choice or are they not simply the best way to win within one’s means at the time? Performance, when you are a top athlete, you do everything you can to achieve it. In my years, French football was based on a more calm game, which was more a game of possession and creation. Now, the game of the Blues is a more rigorous game, a game more direct and percussion on the offensive plan.
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