It is not this facet that his friend from Europe 1 for twenty years Lionel Rosso has chosen to show. The director of « Guy Roux, a history of France » has drawn a film full of contained emotion around the one who will surely remain a unique case in the history of French football, and even worldwide. The man of a single club, the Auxerroise Youth Association (AJA), which made this small town on the banks of the Yonne of 37,000 inhabitants known throughout Europe. “Guy Roux sacrificed 44 years of his life for his club. This is proof of an exceptional person”, underlines Alex Ferguson, also the man of one club (Manchester United)…
It is not this facet that his friend from Europe 1 for twenty years Lionel Rosso has chosen to show. The director of « Guy Roux, a history of France » has drawn a film full of contained emotion around the one who will surely remain a unique case in the history of French football, and even worldwide. The man of a single club, the Auxerroise Youth Association (AJA), which made this small town on the banks of the Yonne of 37,000 inhabitants known throughout Europe. “Guy Roux sacrificed 44 years of his life for his club. It’s proof of an exceptional person,” said Alex Ferguson, also a one-club man (Manchester United).
Kool and the gang
This paternalistic side is the plot of the film. And if his son François remains discreet about their family life, many players testify to the tutelary figure. In the forefront of which Eric Cantona, so stingy with comments on football. “Guy Roux taught me everything. People I love and respect, there aren’t many. Guy Roux, I love him and I respect him. Deeply”, says the “King”. Djibrill Cissé, Philippe Mexes, Lionel Charbonnier or Jean-Marc Ferreri also have words full of tenderness for their mentor who nevertheless showed them at the time.
His players, he brooded them like his children, supervising the exits in nightclub, reading the odometers of the cars. The ladies at the motorway toll booths even noted down the times the players passed through on the way to Paris! But smart, smart and a half: the players agreed with the DJs of the nightclub near the training center – future agent Christophe Hutteau was one of them – that the song « Celebration » by Kool and the gang would sound the signal for the coach’s arrival and exit through a back door.
“People I like and respect, there aren’t many. Guy Roux, I love him and I respect him deeply” (Eric Cantona)
Through them, Guy Roux splits the armor, reveals a little the deep roots of this ferocious desire to rise socially, and to win, always: a military father, committed on all fronts and very little present, a hemiplegic mother from 1946 and died in 1963. Guy Roux was brought up by his peasant grandparents, fed in the family vegetable garden; with them, he learns not to “waste”. As a teenager, he was entrusted to a family in Colmar where he discovered football, amazed by his first pro match from the stands.
The other « drama » of his life is that he will not have succeeded in becoming a professional footballer, a good striker at regional level but not gifted enough to turn pro. So he chose very young to become a coach. Auxerre spotted him during a match against an English team then hired him as a player-coach in 1961. Then began his incredible company as a builder, from the regional level to the rise in Division 1. However, his greatest emotion, before the title of champion of France in 1996, the four French Cups and the quarter-final of the Champions League, will remain the rise to the national level in 1970.
Private plane and Depardieu
With Jean-Claude Hamel the president and Gérard Bourgoin the business man of the “Chaillotine” chickens, the triumvirate makes the success of the AJA. Thanks to the first, the AJA will align more than forty positive annual budgets, to make the presidents of Ligue 1 pale today. The second, Bernard Tapie’s model, will bring his love of speed – sometimes Homeric returns from matches in a private plane! – and this show biz side by involving his friend Gérard Depardieu in the adventure.
A first French Cup final in 1979, the rise in Division 1 (1980), the maintenance thanks to the reinforcement of the Polish Andrzej Szarmach, the double cup of France-championship (1996) with Laurent Blanc recruited in 24 hours of Saint-Etienne : the epic of Auxerre is inseparable from Guy Roux. « He used the club to achieve his goals, but it’s proof that with the values of work, respect and education, it’s possible », retains Lionel Rosso.
A welcome coincidence, the film ends with the rise of AJA in Ligue 1 last June, ten years after having left it. Guy Roux’s legacy is alive and well.