We will no longer hear his hoarse voice, marked with a deep benevolence. Jacques Loncar, former coach and emblematic figure of football in Ile-de-France, died in his sleep during the night from Monday to Tuesday at the age of 72. His funeral will take place Tuesday morning (11 a.m.) in the church of Juilly, in Seine-et-Marne.
A talent scout, the former PE teacher notably launched Didier Drogba’s career in the 90s when he coached Levallois, in CFA (the 4th division). The double African Golden Ball, 42 years old and retired from the field since 2018, has not forgotten it. Deeply affected by his death, he agreed, from Côte d’Ivoire, to tell us about the man who counted so much in his life.
What did Jacques Loncar represent for you?
DIDIER DROGBA. It was like a father, like all the coaches I had during my stay at Levallois. A great advisor … (silence, he is overcome by emotion). She was a beautiful person, truly a beautiful person.
What memories will you keep of him?
There are so many … But one comes to mind. I must have been 17-18 years old, and I had gone to Rennes for a test without telling him. I was in a hurry to join a professional structure. We were a hundred players, and more than three at the end. I was training with the pro reserve, Sylvain Wiltord, Marco Grassi… It went very well but they decided not to recruit me. I return to Levallois, Jacques was angry and told me: you think it was not going to be known. He had told recruiters in Rennes that I was unruly because I had disrespected him by not keeping him informed. This struck me. We sulked. I played a bit of a rebel, I even told him that I was quitting football.
But you continued …
He convinced me by saying that he was going to help me find a club, seeing my desire to leave. He told me about the interest of Paris Saint-Germain ( Editor’s note: club where Jacques Loncar could have taken over the head of the training center on a proposal from President Francis Borelli in 1989 ). Then he put me in contact with Marc Westerloppe (trainer) and Alain Pascalou (recruiter) from Le Mans, where I signed at 19. He had an excellent network. Besides, a few weeks ago, we had the phone and he was trying to place one or two players … ( sigh ). I wanted to check in, tease him a bit because I was a bit like his son. She’s someone I really loved …
You mention PSG. Why didn’t you sign at the time?
Things just happened naturally. We couldn’t conclude and soon after, I had the Le Mans offer. He (Jacques Loncar) was really happy for me. It was he who allowed me to score my first goals in CFA when I was young (Editor’s note. National 2 today), an already enormous level for me who came from the under-17s, the juniors of the time.
So he was the one who integrated you into the Levallois first team …
At the club, I think everyone saw potential in me but I learned a lot from him, from Repcic (Srebrenko, assistant coach at the time) who picked me up from Châtelet station to accompany me to training and brought me back so that I could take my train and return to Antony. Coach Jacques asked me with his big voice: how are you young man? It was a little impressive, especially when you’re young, I was even a little afraid to talk to him. You see, it’s full of childhood memories flowing back. It was a real family, and all the people I met in Levallois are dear to me. I am deeply affected by his passing.
Would you have known this trajectory without him?
Yes, certainly, but it is also thanks to him that I have lived this career. He contributed to my outbreak. I assume that our life is written in advance, and we put people in your path to guide you, shape you, achieve your goals. He is one of those, to which I will be forever grateful. He was a respectful person, a teacher, patient, with a lot of wisdom and kindness… This is what we expect from a coach, from a trainer, and he is one of the greats. The kind of person you can only love. He passed on his knowledge to me, like other coaches, and today, it’s my turn to play this role. He will always be on my mind.