Why do the « super guys » Paul Bernardoni and Sada Thioub follow each other from club to club?


« I can’t blame him, so it’s complicated. From their presentation to the press on January 7 around a hilarious Pascal Dupraz, Paul Bernardoni and Sada Thioub showed that they would bring smiles and chambering to the Saint-Etienne locker room. It can’t hurt a group bruised by a nightmarish first leg of Ligue 1, with a 20th place and only two successes on the clock.

The obvious complicity of the two winter recruits, who should make their debut on Saturday (5 p.m.) against RC Lens, is explained by an astonishing common course: Paul Bernardoni (24) and Sada Thioub (26) have just chained joint adventures in Nîmes (2018-2019) then in Angers (since 2020), before the SCO decided to loan them both to ASSE, respectively two and one year from the end of their contract.

Bernardoni pays for his McDo tour with Angers

« It doesn’t surprise me at all to see them immediately go to Saint-Etienne, » says Abdel Bouhazama, director of the Angers training center. It’s Paul and Sada, they were often together before and after training. There is really friendship between these guys who have the same great mentality. “As coach of the Angevin reserve team, Abdel Bouhazama was also able to realize this when he recovered the goalkeeper and the right winger for National 2 matches.

Paul Bernardoni battles to recover the ball from Kylian Mbappé's feet last October at the Parc des Princes.
Paul Bernardoni battles to recover the ball from Kylian Mbappé’s feet last October at the Parc des Princes. – CHRISTOPHE SAIDI/SIPA

“We have a little custom in reserve: in the event of an away victory, the pro players present pay the McDo to the whole group after the match. In Montpellier (December 11), Paul gladly agreed to treat us. As for Sada, I suspect him of having been as clever as he is in his game, because he had coincidentally forgotten his credit card in Granville (in August 2019). He must have taken credit from a teammate. »

« Only commando matches » for Bernardoni in 2019-2020

New SCO sports coordinator, Laurent Boissier responded favorably, at the start of the winter transfer window, to the request of his Saint-Etienne counterpart Loïc Perrin, immediately interested in the two profiles. As the former sports director of Nîmes Olympique, he knew the two players well.

“These are easy-going boys, with an exemplary mentality, and who clearly like each other. Their loan happened very naturally with Saint-Etienne, who needed players with experience in Ligue 1 and a feeling of revenge. Paul and Sada went on a maintenance mission, and Paul is particularly experienced in this exercise, because we had only had commando matches in his second season in Nîmes. »

As the Crocodiles had benefited from it in 2020, ASSE supporters would sign for the happy scenario of an 18th place at the end of a season suddenly interrupted by the Covid-19, and therefore without roadblocks.

« It’s very rare to see that in the careers of professional footballers »

But how to explain that Paul Bernardoni and Sada Thioub were able to know the same three clubs in the top flight in a row? “Of course it’s very rare to see that in the careers of professional footballers, recognizes Laurent Boissier. Afterwards, you should know that they do not have the same agent, and their common course is above all the result of chance. »

Sada Thioub, who puts Jordan Amavi down here, during an OM-SCO in January 2020, will seek to revive in Forez.
Sada Thioub, who puts Jordan Amavi down here, during an OM-SCO in January 2020, will seek to revive in Forez. – Daniel Cole/AP/SIPA

Chance is sometimes explained by a stroke of brilliance marking the minds of leaders. On August 11, 2018, for the first start in Ligue 1 of his career, Sada Thioub signed an anthology goal with Nîmes (4 players eliminated and a dive on the goalkeeper) then a decisive pass for a stunning success… in Angers (3 -4). The master class in the career of a player who finally combined, at 26, only 5 goals and 8 assists in 91 matches in L1.

“Bernardoni is the crème de la crème”

But this bright memory prompted the SCO to drop 3.5 million euros to afford the Senegalese during the summer of 2019. « Sada is a great percussion player, very comfortable technically, confides Baptiste Valette, his former teammate from 2017 to 2019 in Nîmes. His hooks can hurt a lot. And then it’s a guy who laughs all the time and puts you in a good mood. »

The current Nancy goalkeeper, also passed by Sainté from 2013 to 2015, is just as rave about Paul Bernardoni: “Paul is the cream of the crop, someone endearing. And yet, I was a starter in L2 before his arrival and I couldn’t play a minute in Ligue 1 behind when he arrived. ASSE has recruited two great guys who get along well, but also two real reinforcements for maintenance. A major challenge, before discovering in five months where this inseparable duo will bounce back.



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