Do not mistake yourself. His love, his passion, is football. Passed by Lille, Rouen or Bari in Italy, Grégory Campi opened his restaurant in 2008, in Fontvieille. And if his retraining off the pitch has more than worked, the 46-year-old Monegasque intends to find his way back to the green rectangle. But this time on the bench.
First trained in Monaco, Grégory Campi studied at the age of 15 in Rouen, before bouncing back in Ajaccio: « I left the country, which did me the greatest good at that age. » This is where the journey began. The former attacking midfielder has known eight clubs in ten years of career. Lille, then Rouen again, before discovering a whole new culture in Bari, in the south of Italy. « This is where my high-level career started since we were playing in Serie A [la première division en Italie, NDLR]. »
In 2000, change of frame with the Montreal Impact before returning to Lille for a season. He moved a few kilometers away to Belgium, to La Louvetière, to end his career right next to the Principality of his heart: San Remo.
The specter of retirement
Then comes retirement, this dreaded deadline for many top athletes. « I was lucky to be married very early, to be a father very early and therefore to be well surrounded. But despite everything, the question of what was going to happen next has been in my head all my career. But he didn’t really have time to gamble. The idea of setting up his own business began to germinate when he was still playing for San Remo in 2007. »The fact of having immediately switched from a top athlete – where I had only known that – to this project, allowed me not to have this little death.
Accounting and language lessons later, restaurant Alden’T (the T refers to his children Tiago and Theo), opened in 2008. »From day one it was a wild success and it hasn’t faltered for 15 years. I discovered an adventure with customers, some customers have become friends. We really wanted this conviviality. Unconsciously, I think I wanted to transcribe here what I experienced in Italy: good food and conviviality. »
« When I wake up, I’m missing something »
If his project goes as planned – in June, the former professional footballer opened his first franchise in Beausoleil, run by his sister – a return to football is in the pipeline. Because the call of the round ball is too strong.
When AS Monaco called on him to take care of the reserve team in 2009, Grégory Campi could not refuse. For nine years, he had to juggle between his restaurant and the coaching bench. « We practiced 3-4 times a week. During the day I worked in the restaurant and in the evenings and weekends I was a trainer. It was doable because it was amateur football. »
In 2018, another offer arrived on the table, that of the semi-pro with Villefranche Saint-Jean Beaulieu. To pass his diplomas – essential for the semi-professional level – Grégory Campi put his restaurant in management, in the hands of his employees. « It allowed me to be serene about what I was doing next. »
At the start of 2022, the adventure at neighboring Villefranche Saint-Jean Beaulieu came to an end. From now on, the objective is to integrate the staff of a very high level coach. « Everything is going well with Alden’T, but when I get up in the morning something is missing […] I would like to find what I was able to know as a footballer but by being a coach. I want the professional world. »