It was the first choice of President Pierre Ferracci. Since Saturday, Stéphane Gilli is the new coach of Paris FC, club with which he has committed for two years. Graduated from the BEPF recently, he will have his first experience as number 1. But the 49-year-old has a lot of experience as a deputy, including alongside Mecha Bazdarevic for seventeen years. And Gilli knows Paris FC well (7th in Ligue 2 this season), where he has already spent two seasons (2018-2020) and where his passage was very appreciated.
How do you welcome this return to Paris FC as coach number 1 this time?
STEPHANE GILLI. I feel proud and honored to have been chosen by President Pierre Ferracci who is a person I appreciate very much. During my first stint as assistant, something happened between Paris FC and me. I felt a real feeling with the managers, the people who work in the offices, the staff and the players... These are things that cannot be explained. It's like a family. There is an attachment and bonds that have been created.
Since you left three years ago, have you always kept in touch?
Yes, I often had players and people from the club on the phone. Even when I was in Morocco, I tried to watch all Paris FC matches. In 2020, basically, I didn't necessarily want to leave. I still had one year left on my contract. Going to the selection of Morocco, it was not even for a question of money. It was mostly for personal reasons. I was able to go with my family to Morocco while I was alone in Paris.
Your visit was unanimous internally and with the supporters...
It's fun. But we know how it works... At first, everything is beautiful. Even if I initially benefit from a favorable a priori, I know that a coach is first judged on his results. I have never counted my hours and I will work to create real energy around the team. After that, a club is not just the first team. I want to unite around her, that everyone, whatever their function or place in the club, feels involved. I will continue to go to see youth matches in Déjerine or go to talk with the fans, as we already did with Mecha (Bazdarevic).
"If I got to this point, it's thanks to Mecha Bazdarevic"
You were his deputy for seventeen years. What role did he play with you?
Mesha, I owe him everything. If I got to this point, it's because of him. I can only thank him. He made me evolve and progress by letting me do many things by his side over the years. If the management of Paris FC chose me, it is also because they were able to see me working with Mécha. I was almost a number 1 bis, and I brought my ideas.
This will be your first experience as number 1. Did you feel it was the right time to get started?
Perhaps in the eyes of the general public, some may find it surprising that I am appointed to a club like Paris FC. But I worked with great coaches: Silvester Takač in Sfax (Tunisia), Bernard Boissier in Nîmes, Jean Tigana in Fulham, Mécha Bazdarevic in Istres, Étoile du Sahel (Tunisia), Al Wakra (Qatar), Grenoble, Sochaux, in the Bosnian national team and Paris FC, René Girard in Paris FC, and Vahid Halilhodzic in Morocco... I learned alongside them and nourished myself from all my experiences. Today, I feel ready to go for it, to become number 1. In any case, I feel capable.
Was becoming number 1 a desire for you?
I have been thinking about it for a few years. I had already had a few proposals that I declined. There was also the question of the diploma. In my entourage, I was pushed to pass it. I took advantage of this year since our departure from the selection of Morocco to validate my BEPF.
By moving from shadow to light, you may nevertheless be more exposed...
Thanks to the coaches I worked with, I was able to discover all facets of the job, even recruitment. I participated in mercato meetings, my opinion counted. Now, I am well aware that I will be more exposed in terms of communication with the media or relations with partners. But I don't want to change my personality. I am first and foremost a man of the field. I want to stay the same.
"The keywords of my project will be requirement, benevolence and human"
What objective did the management of Paris FC give you?
The project is coherent, and the club continues to build. We know that he has wanted to move to the next level for a few years. But if the managers were looking for a coach who had told them "we'll go up at the end of the season", I wouldn't have been the right person. On the other hand, what I can promise is to work, to set up a game identity to have a team that performs and progresses. I will also focus on valuing the young people of the club. In the last few games this season, it was not bad but I would also like us to create a real enthusiasm with the public. If we went from 3,500 people to 7-8,000, that would be good. We are in Paris, we must do everything possible to make people want to come to the stadium.
What will be Stéphane Gilli's leg?
I remain convinced that football is also a question of state of mind, at least for 50%. The keywords of my project will be requirement, benevolence and human. I already want a group that can adhere to these principles. Afterwards, on the pitch, I hope to build a team that acts, that does not suffer and that is able to master all five game situations (placed attack, fast attack, offensive transition, defensive transition and set pieces). Basically, I prefer a four-man defense but we will see according to the squad.
Apart from Julien Lopez, not all players at the end of their contracts have been renewed. Did you participate in any choices?
Yes. Some were difficult like for Ousmane (Kanté) who I love, but we were too full of central defenders. For the rest, we will move forward. As I have seen almost all Paris FC matches, I already have ideas and I know where I want to go. The ideal, of course, would be to already have a big backbone for the resumption of training, but I know it will be complicated. Afterwards, I also know that I will find very competent people in the staff with whom I have already worked: Armand (Sene, assistant), Micka (Boully, goalkeeper coach), Christophe (Manouvrier, physical trainer) and Romain (Peyrusqué, recruiter). We know how everyone works so we will save time. We will form a good team to work with.