The date is marked in stone. It sails like a firefly around the Old Port, it is on the pennants of the bars that dot the Canebière, it lives in the minds of the most fadas. In Marseille, we do not forget May 26, 1993. The day of immortality, the one that made a team, a club, a people, "forever the first" in France to win a European Cup of football, and the most beautiful of all. Thirty years later, the heroes still smile at the evocation of the final of Munich, struck by a goal of Basile Boli against the great AC Milan (1-0).
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Pascal Olmeta, substitute goalkeeper during the final, does not sulk his pleasure at the evoking of memories, especially the days that preceded the match. "You could not walk on the Canebière, on the port or anywhere 100 km around Marseille, he tells Le Figaro. It was just about that, it was the blue and white colors everywhere." OM is still traumatized by the hand of Vata in the semi-finals 1990 against Benfica, and the final lost in 1991 against Red Star Belgrade (0-0, 5-3 on penalties). Olmeta, who started against Belgrade two years earlier, had a journey all the way to Munich.
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Olmeta in the wrong hotel
In conflict with Bernard Tapie, president just as sulphurous as the Corsican, Olmeta is stripped of his place of holder in favor of Fabien Barthez. He is not even allowed to travel with the team to Germany and is content with the fans' plane. When he arrived, it was still a mess: "I found myself the day before in a hotel that was not that of the players. Today I can talk about it, laugh about it, but on D-Day, I didn't laugh too much." Out of the question, however, to "fuck the bad atmosphere" in the team.
Pascal Olmeta, goalkeeper of Olympique de Marseille between 1990 and 1993. DPPI / Panoramic
OM prepared for this final in a country hotel, an hour's drive south of Munich. There is no question of repeating the mistake of 1991. "The green was a little too strict, anxiety-provoking, cold," said Jean-Pierre Bernès, former director general of OM, in the columns of France Football. This time, it was "a real Club Med". Jokes in the kitchen, visit of Chris Waddle at the invitation of Tapie, a year after his departure from Marseille. "The day before training, it was fun," Olmeta agrees.
The chambering towards Papin
Then comes the final where, for OM, "it was almost miraculous to have arrived," says Mario Albano, a journalist with a 44-and-a-half-year career for the regional daily La Provence. For the media of Marseille, it is the effervescence. They are about 25 of the local press to have made the trip. "There was tension," admits Mario Albano. At least until Basile Boli's goal from a corner in the 44th minute. OM returns galvanized to the locker room. Olmeta remembers half-time, sitting next to Fabien Barthez. "The words are: 'guys, we win, they will come and get us, if we can put them the 2nd or 3rd, we put them. But it's up to them to make the match."»
The former Lyon and Matra Racing goalkeeper can still feel "this strength" Marseille. "It reminds me of the City-Real match the other day (Champions League semi-final second leg on May 17, Manchester City won 4-0). When you have that strength, nothing can happen to you. Nothing." Olmeta has confidence in its partners, to the point of teasing Jean-Pierre Papin. Ballon d'Or 1991 in the Phocaean jersey, the Frenchman then wears the colors of Milan. "From the bench, I told Jean-Pierre: 'You're going to lose her anyway.' He wasn't smiling. He was playing against his team...»
The minutes go by, AC Milan is struggling. Mario Albano, who has OM grafted to the heart, puts emotion aside: he must write his report of the match. "I didn't dare to write the beginning because it was too uncertain," he laughs. As soon as it stops, I pick up the phone and start improvising my paper with a steno. And suddenly, I turn around and see my 4 colleagues kissing. There's one who kisses me and I say, "What's happening to you?" I wasn't at all in the demonstration of joy at the final whistle, I was in the "oh fuck, I have to return my article."»
He looked at me with squinted eyes while drinking his beer and said, "You saw old, we got there huh."
Mario Albano, journalist, on his moment shared with Raymond Goethals after the final.
OM is celebrating. "We didn't sleep," Olmeta says. There could be nothing more than having it stolen (laughs). We replayed the game, we did 1991 again, we redid our training, our mistakes. It was tears of joy..." An accomplishment. This is surely how Raymond Goethals, Belgian coach who died in 2004, would describe the coronation.
Raymond Goethals was 71 years old at the time of the 1993 Champions League final. Reporters / Panoramic
It was with him that Mario Albano shared an imperishable moment, in the wake of the post-match press conference. "There was a big room with small high tables like in a bar," says the journalist. Once everyone was gone, he sat down at one of those tables with a beer. I sat down next to him. He had this calm face, of the guy who achieved his life's goal. He looked at me with squinted eyes while drinking his beer and said, "You saw old, we got there huh." Silent happiness.»
Olmeta kidnaps the Champions League in Corsica
A feeling of "we did it" that Olmeta savored, but that did not make him lose the north. Returning to Marseille, after the festivities, he was the first of the team with the Champions League trophy in his hands. He didn't let go of her before... his return to the Island of Beauty. He has, by his own admission, "hidden in the maquis to have (his) bonus" of victory, which he feared to see escape because of his frayed relationship with Tapie. "I was the first to bring the cup to Corsica, moves the native of Bastia. I tell it with pride, honor and happiness.»
Stars in the eyes, memories in the head. And a watch in Basil Boli's pocket. That of Roger Zabel, emblematic journalist for TF1. "I promised to offer it to him in case of victory the day before the final against Berlusconi's Milan, my former boss on the Five," Zabel confirmed for the website Foot D'Avant in 2017. Boli remembered it. The Champions League is nice. The little moments that come with it are even better.
OM 1993: Barthez, Boli, Völler... What happened to the heroes?
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