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The Cévenol will always be a bit like home in Montpellier, as he recalled Thursday at a press conference: “The stadium has changed but that’s where it all started for me. There are people that I really like and it’s a city that I love. La Mosson is a special place for me.”
Before becoming world champion or the feared defender of OM, Inter Milan or Manchester United, Laurent Blanc was shaped by the MHSC. A club that took the time to let grow that today we call “The President”. “At the time he was a shy boy and the club atmosphere helped him a lot“, underlines Robert Nouzaret, who launched the future European champion in Division 2 in September 1983. Laurent Blanc was then 17 years old.
Pierre Mosca is also convinced of this. Montpellier was”the club he needed“to express its full potential.”Like many Cévennes, he is attached to the values of humility, family, work, while being stubborn. (laughs). Laurent was able to knead in the Montpellier mold and express himself at the highest levelconfides to us the former Hérault coach from 1987 to 1989. If he had been at OM or Monaco in his younger years, he might not have had this peace of mind. In Montpellier, he was pampered by the president, loved by the public, his partners and his coaches.”
Originally from Rousson (Cévènnes), Laurent Blanc finds his parents”every week“During his first years as a pro. And during each summer holiday period, he stays in the local cocoon in Carnon (Hérault), reveals Pascal Baills, who joined his former coaches on the importance of the MHSC in the trajectory of his friend . “Despite the injuries (jaw fracture, hamstrings, etc.) who were able to slow him down at the start of his career, the club took the time with Laurent by maintaining his confidence in him.”, he points out.
He negotiated bonuses with President Nicollin and often he got what he asked for.
From his earliest years, Laurent Blanc has shown himself to be indispensable in the eyes of his coaches. “Laurent, I keep only good memories. On the field, he had so many exceptional arguments that it was difficult not to appreciate him. He was a good and a good playersupports Robert Nouzaret, who later became sporting director of Montpellier. In addition, Laurent was a man without problems, really very classy. He had all the qualities to succeed in life..”
Could we slow down the fiber of the future coach at the dawn of his 20th birthday? “Not yet“, answers, in all frankness Pierre Mosca, who recalls that the role of leader was held at that time by the former Albert Rust, Nenad Stojkovic, Julio Cesar, Roger Milla or Gérard Bernardet. Only internationals (note: english, Yugoslav, Brazilian and Cameroonian), apart from Bernardet.
“In his early days, he seemed detached, cushy. Lolo was never stressed because he technically mastered so muchsays Pierre Mosca. But it might seem like a false impression because he never cheated on the pitch, where he was smart.” “Pierrot talks about a particular period when Laurent was often injured. It was complicated for him to assert himself at that time“, adds Pascal Baills, who describes his ex-teammate as “guide in placement and replacement“. Because with the seasons passing by on his young counter and the title of European Espoirs champion gleaned in 1988, Laurent Blanc takes an essential place in the Montpellier workforce.
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“He was the natural leader of a team that still included Michel Der Zakarian, Jacek Ziober or Carlos Valderramaremembers Claude Barrabé, who arrived at the MHSC in the summer of 1990. He was not someone who shouted from the rooftops, but by his knowledge of the game, he managed to get everyone to agree. Then he organized meetings between players when things were not going well. I remember at the time, there had been a working meeting at the UNFP on the duration of the contract and he had managed to get all the players from Montpellier to Paris. Despite his young age, he was expected.”
And respected, even within the highest Montpellier authorities. Because Laurent Blanc was going to win the match bonuses in person with President Louis Nicollin. “Often he got what he asked forrecalls Claude Barrabé. Laurent was sure of himself and knew what he wanted for the team. When he negotiated, it was not for the eleven in the field but for the twenty professionals. Even if he may seem cold at first sight, he is open to discussion. I liked his human side in the group.”
From mid to libero
It is also in Montpellier that Laurent Blanc experienced a major change in his playing career. During the 1989-90 season, Aimé Jacquet and then Michel Mézy asked him to step down as libero. “At first he was reluctantremembers Pascal Baills. I think inside he was convinced of it too, but he said it was too early because he wanted to touch more balls in the middle.”
On this turning point in Laurent Blanc’s career, Pierre Mosca reveals a new version. “I will always remember that day when he came to see me in my office to say to me: ‘Coach, I would like to play libero’… At that time, we were third in D1 and I had the best hinge center with Nenad Stojkovic and Julio Cesar. So I answered him: ‘Who do I withdraw in this case? No, you are young, you stay in the middle and you run away. In addition, he had two pit bulls by his side: Jean-Claude Lemoult and Gérard Bernardet. Lolo only had to conclude the actions and he did it very well. I think he had made this proposal to me for the sake of comfort. But when Aimé Jacquet succeeded me, he took over with the departure of Julio César to Juventus.”
Laurent Blanc won the 1990 Coupe de France with Montpellier.
Credit: Getty Images
Did Laurent Blanc exploit the quintessence of his immense potential behind? There is no debate listening to his former Montpellier teammates. “It makes sense that he took a step back because it allowed him to see the game betternotes ex-keeper Claude Barrabé. When I had it in front of me, it was easier. Each time, he felt the blows and cut the trajectories of the opposing balls. But he also remained a skilful player in front of the but because he quickly analyzed the game. After the training sessions, we did a series of shots on goal and he said to me: ‘I’m going to do 10/10’. And often, he won the duel.”
Even as a defender, Laurent Blanc continued to inflate his offensive statistics before his departure for Naples in 1991. Thirty-one years later, “The President” returns to Mosson to glean the three points. With Franck Passi as deputy. A veteran of La Paillade, of course.
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