“It’s a bad day”. At the end of the line, the voice of Alain Giresse is poorly assured. The disappearance this Thursday of Michel Hidalgo, the man who forged his destiny in the French team, deeply marks him. At his side, he experienced the disappointment of Seville in 1982 and then crowned it during Euro 1984. He then found him on the side of Marseille at the end of his career. They had in common the love of the beautiful game.
How did you receive the announcement of the death of Michel Hidalgo?
ALAIN GIRESSE. It’s a great emotion… it’s cruel. It’s really a bad day. What breaks my heart is that, given the circumstances, we will not be able to attend his funeral. He deserved a nice funeral. Believe me, there would have been a lot of people, because it was appreciated by all.
Was he as nice as they say?
Yes, he was someone very human, very kind. He took care of others and was always attentive. However, there was no carelessness. He imposed great rigor and respect for the team’s game. He bet on mutual understanding with the players. He had the connection.
Was it thanks to this connection that he was able to set up his playing style?
Yes. When he took over the France team, he had a very clear idea of what he wanted to do. At the time, the French team did not have good results. But he did not want to copy the style of Spain or the Netherlands. His credo was to find an identity that would suit French football and French players. He put in place a tactic that allowed us all to stay in our registry. His guideline was clear: everything had to go through the middle because that’s where the game is built.
However, he said: “Intelligence in the game is more important than instructions” …
Once he had found the complementarity between the players, he empowered them and let their creativity, their instinct, their intelligence speak for themselves. And then he talked more about fun and play than results.
At the beginning of February, with fifteen former players of the French team including Platini and Tigana, you visited him in Marseille…
We followed his health and it had been a while since we thought that we had to meet around him. It made us happy. It was a very family moment, it looked like him.
When you signed with OM in 1986, he was the manager. Did that count in your choice?
The first reason is that I left Bordeaux. Then, indeed, his presence in Marseille made my decision easier.
What if you only had to keep one picture of him?
I owe him my first selection, in 1974. Chiesa was injured and it is he who says to Kovacs (Editor’s note: then selector) to take me. Later, when he took over the France team, he called me back, he gave me confidence. He counted a lot because he always believed in me.