In nine seasons in Paris, Sylvain Armand (39) has known everything.
The national cups (Coupe de France 2006 and 2010, Coupe de la Ligue 2008), the galleys of the middle of the table and even the maintenance on the last day, in 2008. And then the arrival of Qatar, Beckham, Ibrahimovic, Ancelotti and the first title of 2013. The former left-back, who left Stade Rennais where he was sports coordinator, recounts his years, those when PSG became who they are today.
What is your best memory at PSG?
There are two.
The title of champion of 2013, first.
Paris had been waiting for it for so long, me too and it was under the direction of Carlo [Ancelotti]… And the other good memory is a title, too, the victory in the Coupe de France against Marseille in 2006 , before the Qatari era.
Under the normal era, let's say.
It was the first clasico in the final, we celebrated it at the town hall after the match… The euphoria had been intense.
This 2013 title seemed special for players like you who had known the club before the takeover ...
Yes, I had the chance to win the title in Nantes before coming to Paris, but other players had never won.
As Carlo [Ancelotti] said before leaving, the only title we will remember is the first in a long history.
Today, it's basic limit.
By dint of being champion, only the Champions League interests.
For us, the most “French”, Jallet, Ménez, Gameiro, me, it's a special title.
We had fought before to have a good time.
We had to wait for someone to help us with great players.
You described the party that followed as the best of your career ...
It was a real treat.
We celebrated it as it should for a few days.
After winning the Coupe de la Ligue and the Coupe de France, it was a culmination of all the years spent in Paris.
Besides, I left after.
I hung on, I had moments that were not obvious, I could have let go.
I held on because I love PSG.
I saw in this title the reward for the work accomplished in difficult times.
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How quickly did the change take place when Qatar arrived?
It had been a radical change.
When Leonardo then Carlo Ancelotti arrived, the club grew to 1000 an hour in one year, with also the work of Antoine Kombouaré who left when we were leaders.
They transformed the club very quickly to make it a great Ligue 1 and European football club.
In the facilities, the daily life, the image of the club, a lot of things have changed.
Was the turn easy for players back in the days to take?
Yes, it was easy, even if we had to find an adaptation in relation to the players who were arriving, Beckham, Thiago Silva, Ibra, Thiago Motta, Maxwell, Verratti and Pastore, even if the latter two were less known… He There was an apprehension of knowing what these people were like who had never been around, great players who won the Champions League, played in big clubs.
But the adaptation went very well.
They are adorable men, competitors at heart in training or in matches, but who live next door, are like everyone else.
Was your ego affected when stars took to all the posts?
No, not at all, I have always been positive about the most negative things.
As soon as we put someone in their position, the players want to leave, feel that we want to take their place.
I have always considered that it helps to win and to progress.
The arrival of great players and the Qataris was a joy for me.
I played less, because Maxwell was above me, it made sense.
But I played anyway, sometimes with him as a left midfielder, or when he was away.
It allowed me to have this title that I dreamed of.
My PSG to me: "I want to come back to Paris", says Maxwell
You mentioned Carlo Ancelotti.
What did he have more than the others in your eyes?
I loved it.
Everyone, the whole group loved it.
He's nice and he's tough too.
I saw him address Ibra, eyes wide, talking to him in Italian, pulling his suspenders and hugging him at the end.
He is able to talk to all of his players, even someone who never plays.
He knows how to bring a player with a smile to training even when he is not in the squad, and God knows it is difficult.
He had this gift and loved all players equally.
For him, Beckham, Ibra, Tiéné, Gameiro or me, it was the same thing, the same attentions.
They say that unlike other coaches, he did not necessarily put a barrier with his players?
He had no problem with that.
Off the field, if an evening was organized, a barbecue or a day off in training, he would come.
Everyone was laughing, it was about football, he was like us.
The next day, it was work.
He wanted to know everyone.
He is a very significant person.
You have known other strong personalities at PSG, like that of Vahid Halilhodzic ...
It is the opposite.
Without saying that Vahid is a bad person, he made do with his time, his way of being, his temper and his character.
He was much more withdrawn, much harder.
We were almost scared when he was in the corridors: "Be careful, here is the coach".
With Carlo, we were chatting as if he wasn't there and he would join in the conversation.
This tackle from Sylvain Armand.
PSG - OM 2004!
- Vibrons Foot (@VibronsFoot) July 26, 2020
Was his anger memorable?
Yes, but those of Antoine
(Editor's note: Kombouaré)
were also not bad at one time!
These are people who wanted to succeed in this club.
It wasn't right, and they had a harder time hiding their emotions.
And it was also harder to win back then.
Was the arrival of David Beckham even stronger symbolically than that of Zlatan Ibrahimovic?
The arrival of David was made very cleverly by Leonardo.
It showed that the club had changed management and standing.
It was significant for everyone and for me too.
I had known Beckham in 1998. I was a ball collector during the World Cup for the England-Argentina match.
And in 2013, I found myself with him, it was extraordinary.
I had the chance to meet him with a few other players
(Editor's note: Chantôme, Jallet, Ménez and Douchez)
at his hotel, because he could not go out because of the media coverage.
We realized that he was a person like any other.
But in terms of football, he arrived an hour before training and left 1:30 after.
It allowed him to have this longevity.
How were these evenings going?
We visited him regularly at the Bristol, where he lived.
He told about his career, his way of doing things and being.
By dint of being invited to his house, we wanted to invite him to the restaurant.
He made us understand that it was a hassle to go out, there were cameras all the time in front of his hotel, people waiting up to the reception.
It was complicated.
We stayed at his place and we shared good times.
After he left, we sent greetings to each other every year.
David, the first, sent me a picture with his children.
I wondered how he could have gotten my new address.
We have less contact, but I would love to see him again.
It was also around this time that your barbecues became famous!
A lot of people talk about my barbecues, but it wasn't just for the pleasure of having a good time, it was for everyone's support.
I made these famous barbecues at the beginning of the season, for the understanding of the women and the players who arrived.
It allowed everyone to meet and not have a priori.
Many players, especially David, came to the house.
Even he showed he was able to move around and have a good time.
How did this "tradition" take hold?
I organized a barbecue at the start of my second season at PSG.
The idea, I'll be honest, relates to my arrival.
I never said it, but when I arrived in Paris, I was very badly received.
I was a bit neglected, I had to adapt and there was a bit of jealousy.
I had been marked and disappointed.
I didn't want rookies in the following seasons to suffer the same fate.
I thought it had been cold so I decided to get everyone together.
It allowed women to get to know each other too.
After the buyout, was it strange to have Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic that you barely knew in your garden?
I told Carlo about it and invited everyone.
It had been clear the day I launched the initiative.
He would ask everyone to come, bring something back, on such day, at such address, and we had a great evening.
It pinned down very well.
Whether Zlatan or Thiago, they were present and on time, like professionals.
They arrive at a barbecue on time.
This is what I try to convey to young people today when I talk to them.
Is Ibra the most “special” player you've come across?
Yes, it is the most out of the system.
He's a phenomenon, but also a kid, in quotes.
He laughs a lot in the locker room.
He has a shell, everyone is afraid of him and he likes it.
When he said "Without me, Paris did not exist", "the club has never known a title before", or even his following statements in Los Angeles, it did not shock me.
I am the first spectator and I await its releases which make me laugh.
“Ibra is a phenomenon, but also a kid” ./LP/Marc Menou
Why were PSG a Cup team in the 2000s when they finished in the middle of the league table?
Even we asked ourselves this question.
The cups were the fastest way to get to the European Cup.
In one match, PSG was able to do a lot of things, like in the Coupe de France final lost against Lyon in 2008 where we had made an exceptional performance.
We had marched on the Lyonnais.
We could answer on major meetings, but over the long term, it was more difficult to ensure every weekend.
Personally, how did you get through these years of famine?
When I arrived, the club had just finished 2nd, playing the Champions League.
I went through a very complicated adaptation, I had trouble finding my level and then we never finished second until the arrival of Qatar.
I came to PSG, in a club that I liked a lot, I had watched the PSG tapes in the European Cup, the goal of Kombouaré against Real Madrid (in 1993)… This club made me dream and I thought of playing the title all seasons, it was a bit complicated on that side.
We had to do with it.
And you should know that at PSG, there is a lot of pressure.
This reached its climax in 2008, with the maintenance torn from the last day at Sochaux…
It's not my best memory of being in that game and that year.
It was a difficult time.
For the people who worked on a daily basis, and for PSG, with the team we had, it looked like a nightmare.
On arrival, there was a great relief, but it is not a good memory, in particular because, that we had been jostled, my car had been broken… It had been very complicated to live during six good months .
In this situation, we had to assume, because we had come to a club that wanted titles and we were not giving satisfaction.
We weren't giving what people expected and we had to understand the sadness and disappointment.
2008, the nightmare of the maintenance race
In 2008, the PSG is maintained during the last day of the championship in Sochaux… A painful memory for Sylvain Armand, here with Pauleta / LE PARISIEN
How did you experience the incidents in the stands and around the Park, as well as the Leproux plan, another turning point in these years?
These are the kinds of things that don't make sense in a team sport.
It affects us.
We felt responsible for what was going on, especially when a supporter died after our loss to Tel Aviv.
For the Leproux plan, it was different, we followed that, but it was more complicated to know all the reasons behind the decision to dissolve the supporter groups.
It affected us too, and we also felt that without the two turns, it was not the same.