The former captain of the French football team, triple Ballon d’Or and sports leader Michel Platini answered questions from Jacques Vendroux and Jean-François Pérès in Europe 1 Sport, presented by Lionel Rosso. An exceptional interview.
International player, coach of the France team, co-president of the organizing committee for the 1998 World Cup, president of UEFA, Michel Platini is one of the most influential figures in the history of world football . Exclusively for Europe 1 Sport, he confides as rarely, from his beginnings in Nancy to the “Fifagate” affair. Exciting and moving.
Her debut at AS Nancy Lorraine: “It was great”
“I spent a week’s training in Metz to find out if I was fit to play football and it went very well. Then, at the end, we did some heart tests. I fell into it. the apples after having blown many times into a spirometer. Metz asked that I do tests in Nancy. I went to Nancy. sport. So they didn’t take me. My dream was to play for FC Metz. But hey, it didn’t happen. I went to Nancy.
We had a great generation, President Claude Cuny (between 1967 and 1975 and general manager from 1975 to 1979) had ambition for this team and everything went well since we won the Coupe de France in 78 and the he year in which we win the Coupe de France to play the European Cup, unfortunately, patatras. They made a very good recruitment since there was Bernard Zénier who came, Robert Pintenat, Alain Merchadier. I was injured for 9 months and then so did they. And I went to Saint-Etienne. But it was great! Very quickly, I was twelfth man. I played my first match at Valenciennes in August 1972. We had a great team, we played well with the ball, we finished fourth in the French championship (during the 1976-1977 season). “
His stint at AS Saint-Etienne: “The club was no longer hungry”
“All French clubs and foreign clubs wanted me. Normally, my first club was Alfredo Di Stefano’s Valencia, in Spain. He is a coach, he comes to see me play in Nancy against Bastia. I do a good job. match and then they absolutely want to buy me. Nancy absolutely wants to sell, but me, I decide not to be sold and to go at the end of my contract. Then there is Inter Milan who come to get me and I signed with them in 79. But the borders remain closed.The borders were closed to foreigners.
And so there are all the French clubs that come to see me, Bordeaux, Paris, Saint-Etienne, Marseille … And then I decide to go to the legendary club of the moment, Saint-Etienne. But forty years later, I can say that I arrived in a club that was no longer hungry. The players had known the heyday of the European Cup and had won titles. We had great moments, great victories. But unfortunately I think the club themselves were no longer hungry. “
His first year at Juventus in Turin: “20,000 tifosi in training”
“The first practice was unreal. At 6 am: Knock, knock, knock. And I was like, ‘What did I come to do in this country?’ I did not speak Italian, I did not understand. In Saint-Etienne and Nancy, when we did the first training, we spent two hours in the field, running, doing sit-ups … And we went out, we had aches. everywhere. And there, first training. We leave, we go for a walk and after a quarter of an hour, we are told: ‘It’s over for today, go back to the hotel, have a massage etc . ‘ First training, 15 minutes walk. I was on the buttocks, I had never seen that in my life. In the afternoon, we go back to the stadium. Training. 20,000 people in the stadium. 20,000 tifosi. 20,000 people and we do weight training.
And then, when you do weight training, you have to do 20 exercises with the audience that matters. You have to do them what! The difference between training in France and Italy is that we in France trained very hard. In Italy, we PLAY very loudly for 90 minutes. It was the 90 minutes that counted. Not the training. The first year, we reach the final of the Champion’s League and we lose against Hamburg 1-0 while we are favorites. If we win this cup, we win three or four in a row. “
The Heysel drama (May 29, 1985, European Champion Clubs’ Cup final between Turin Juventus and Liverpool): “A drama of life”
“It’s a life drama, even more than a football drama. You know, when people come to you in a stadium and they never come home, it hurts. We don’t play football. football for that. It’s not the film we dreamed of making when we were little. I think about it. That’s why when I see what is happening in the stadiums, when I see that the Fans want to stand in the stadiums… Beware, be careful The fans who came to see me when I was UEFA president wanted to stand in the stadiums.
I told them, ‘As long as I’m president, you won’t be standing in the stadiums. Me, I have known tragedies, I have known deaths, many deaths at the time. Maybe after me you can do whatever you want. But while I’m here, you won’t. ‘ I think it’s important that the game was a real game. It was not a game overused by either. It was a real game, so we won a real game.
Afterwards, I am asked if we should play or not. Yes, it was absolutely necessary to play. It was necessary to protect the public. Because it would have been a civil war in the city of Brussels. Back then, the supporters had guns and knives and all that. If they knew there had been deaths, I think it would have escalated. Fortunately we played. “
His three Ballon d’Or: “Today, yes, it’s my pride”
“It’s not my pride. Today, yes, because the kids, when they pass by, when the father introduces me, he says ‘It’s Michel Platini, he has three Ballons d’Or’ and there, they open their eyes like that. But for me, in the football that I knew in Italy, with all the greatest players in the world at the time, to be three times top scorer when you are not a center forward, it is more effective than being nominated three times Ballon d’Or. It was the journalists who decided that it was Ballon d’Or. It is the consequence of what I did in Italy. “
The organization of the 1998 World Cup: “I was at the office every day”
“It was new. I was in the office. We were interested in a lot of things, in the organization etc. We were 700 employees. In the end, we had to manage it all. It was nice. J ‘ I liked it. I had fallen in with two wonderful guys who were Fernand Sastre and Jacques Lambert (director of the organizing committee for the 1998 World Cup). They helped me to understand a little about the organization, the politics and Lots of things. Before, I was a player or a coach, so there was no politics. There, I learned to see politics.
After that, I was co-chairman, I could have hid myself, be in the photos and do nothing, but I was in the office every day. And on a voluntary basis, since you can say (ironically) that I am a guy who thinks about money. I worked for FIFA on a voluntary basis. So it was something that I really liked because between Fernand and Jacques, it was good. And then there was a deadline on July 12, 1998. It was over, we moved on. That was also interesting. “
The “Fifagate” case: “In the end, I will win”
“They banned me for four years. I still fight and I won’t let go. And in the end, I’ll win. You’ll see. I didn’t do anything wrong, but I was fired so as not to be I’m the president of FIFA, we invented a salary arrears, something bogus, corruption … It’s incredible everything that fell on my head. The goal was to fire me “Switzerland fired me. They invented something not just about the FIFA president, period. He (Sepp Blatter, FIFA president from 1998 to 2015) was pretty much on the way out.
It is not a problem for my life. I was asked to be president of FIFA. It was the injustice that disturbed me. It’s the media coverage around that that hurts. When you are called a crook, bribe, money launderer, etc. It’s terrible. You don’t know what’s happening to you. “
His election at the head of UEFA: “Ten vodkas in Georgia!”
“The timing of the election campaign is funny because you want to know who votes for you. When I go to Georgia, one day I called my wife. I was on my tenth vodka. I said ‘Christelle, I don’t know if I’ll be president, but I’ll end up an alcoholic. ‘ In order for people to vote for you, you have to be nice! So there are wonderful anecdotes. Then, it’s a good world. Because don’t forget that UEFA or FIFA today , it is an administration, but the power, it is the associations which have it.
Normally, when we say UEFA, it’s 53 associations. So, there are people in there who are remarkable, who are presidents of associations, who drool over it, who have nothing. You go to Moldova, Georgia, Liechtenstein, they have nothing. They never win a football match and they have to take care of their country. It’s not easy and they are great people with whom I got along well and who elected me to make UEFA well. “
What is he most proud of? “I like the League of Nations”
“Listen, there are a lot of things that were important, but after that, on top of everything we did, we created, for example, the Youth League, which is not bad. the League of Nations because the League of Nations is something that is more ‘honest’, more normal. That is to say that the national associations play according to their value. It is not the qualifications for the World Cup or for the European Championships where France plays against a small country.
We replaced the friendly matches with this competition. Friendly matches were of no interest to anyone. We made a cut managed by UEFA, where we centralized the rights. We gave everyone money. And above all, it allowed the smaller national associations to be able to live a little. The role of the UEFA president is not to please the French team, but to think of the 53 countries that were playing, of course. “
His goal ? “I want to make football part of Unesco’s timeless heritage”
“I find that to put football in the timeless heritage of Unesco, it’s something great and I am working on it. And I am working with the sports faculty of the city of Marseille to move forward because it’s something that is a little complicated. I want it to be a promotion of football, but when you put someone, something in the timeless heritage of Unesco, you want it protect. That’s where it gets tricky. That’s why I’m working on it. “
His future: “I received a lot of proposals but…”
“I’m waiting to see how it will evolve. Full stop. I have received a lot of proposals from clubs, from the media. But there is a very good chance that I will not do anything at all because I am good like that. . “