Jeep Elite: “I want to write my own story”, Franck Le Goff explains the reasons for his departure from Nanterre

They had formed an inseparable duo since 2006. Fifteen years of complicity and success. But it is now over. Monday evening, after the victory against Monaco (86-79) on the last day of the Jeep Elite regular season, Franck Le Goff, the loyal right-hand man of Pascal Donnadieu, announced that he was leaving Nanterre. The coach had been taken in confidence two days before. At 50, and after 708 games on the bench, Le Goff is turning an important page in his career, in his life. Selected pieces from his Nantes years.

What is your first memory of Nanterre?

FRANCK LE GOFF. Paradoxically, this is not necessarily a good time. It is December 2005, I arrived the previous summer at the club to take care of the baby chicks, and Pascal asks me to help him. He explains to me that he is ill and that he cannot direct the games for three weeks. The club was poorly classified (Editor’s note: he had just gone up to Pro B) and I just had to give his assistant a hand. Finally, I stayed. I think my first match was against Levallois at home (72-68 victory).

What was the most intense moment?

The title of champion of Pro A in 2013 without a doubt. There was a real fervor, we had never felt that. I think we make an impression when we win the second match in Strasbourg (Editor’s note: after losing the first 89-55). On our return, we cannot play in Nanterre but we discover the Coubertin stadium (Paris) filled to the brim. People from all over France supported us. We received emails saying that, thanks to us, people understood that we should never give up. We were on a mission, we were the little one who could beat the ogre. We felt ourselves growing wings, better, reactors. Nothing could stop us. We felt untouchable.

What has this match changed?

We were no longer losers, it took a lot of pressure off and brought credibility to the club, to us. Some players wanted to come to us. After that, we knew we could do it. The fact of having won gave us confidence for the future. Until this year 2013, we had gone to the final of the Coupe de France (2007) but it was a sword strike in the water. This time, we marked people forever.

What is the biggest regret?

Not having won the Leaders Cup. It is the only trophy that we did not win in France. We went once to the final (2014), several times to the semi…. This is the only title we miss.

And the worst shouting matches?

Moments of tension often happened during games. Because of my character, I got annoyed and upset players. It annoyed Pascal who told me to calm down. But it never lasted long. Two minutes later, he came to pat me on the leg, smiling.

Have you ever thought about leaving?

Twice. I was offered a big project with a Pro B club that had the means and wanted to go up (Editor’s note: Orléans). I thought about it but, in the end, I stayed and we won the Coupe de France and a European Cup (in 2017). Recently, the Tunisian Federation offered me to become a coach, I had the contract in my hands but it did not happen.

How have these fifteen years changed you?

I went from unknown to known. We played in the Euroleague and 7 or 8 seasons in the European Cup. I met great players, incredible people. I was very lucky to go through Nanterre. It is a formidable human adventure. I understood that, all alone, we are nothing and that we could give pleasure to people.

Why did you make the decision to leave?

Simply because I want to coach, to have responsibilities, to be number 1 in my own way, in my sauce. I want to see what I’m worth. I spent fifteen magnificent years as a number 1 bis, because Pascal never considered me to be a number 2. I owe him everything. The next two years will be crucial. If I do a bad job, it will be over for me and if not, it may be the start of a new coaching career.

It will not be easy to dissociate yourself from Nanterre …

The announcement surprised more than one. I had never received so many messages, I feel like I announced that I was stopping my career. I hope that will make clubs want to trust me. Agents have already contacted me and I know my name is already circulating in some clubs but I will not go anywhere. I also want to sit down, enjoy my children.

How do you feel after making this decision?

It was not an easy decision but I feel at ease. I want to write my own story. The future will tell if I made the right decision.


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