We continue in our search for the best saves on The MadScientist’s 1992/93 Database for Football Manager 2022, diving into the story of some of the most interesting teams and players of the era and making the case for a save with them. We leave England behind and sail through the Channel and around Finistère and into the Bay of Biscay, as we land in the city of Bordeaux to meet a young man who, like the fine wines the area is known for, is about to become one of the best there ever was.
Quiet People and Fine Wine
Football can capture your imagination in a plethora of different ways. The traditions that run through it all, on and off the pitch, the rich history of old clubs and the many great players that wore the shirt, the amazing skill of some of those players, who seem to be able to bend time and space at will. But it can also captivate by how it seems (at times) to be the purest instrument of good we have; the way in which it seems to be able to pick a few chosen ones (those who have the skill but also the dedication and the mental strength) to rise to the highest of stages from the humblest of beginnings. Zinedine Zidane was (and remains) one of those few chosen ones.
The Zidane family lived in La Castellane, a lower-class neighbourhood of the city of Marseille and home to around 6,000 people of immigrant origin. The youngest of five siblings, Zidane spent hours on the sidewalk of his building playing football with his brothers and friends from the neighbourhood. At the age of nine, Zidane began playing football for different clubs in the Marseille suburbs like AS Foresta, US Saint-Henri and SO Septèmes-Les-Vallons. It was around this time that he became a fan of Enzo Francescoli when the Uruguayan midfielder played in the French league first for Racing Club de France and then Olympique Marseille.
In December 1986 he was invited to the CREPS (Centre de Ressources, d’Expertise et de performance sportives), a high-performance training centre in Aix-en-Provence, for a three-day course. It was there that Jean Varraud, a scout for AS Cannes, noticed him. They offered him a one-week training course where, despite some hardships, Zidane showed his class. In the summer of 1987, Zinédine Zidane joined AS Cannes.
At the French Riviera club, Zidane’s dedication and technical abilities quickly made him stand out. Very soon, first-team coach Jean Fernández called him into the first team, aged just 16. On May 20, 1989, Zidane debuted in the French First Division against FC Nantes, a side featuring future National Team companions of his like Marcel Desailly and Didier Deschamps. Subbed on with twelve minutes to go, Zidane helped the team equalize the match, which earned him and his teammates a bonus of 5,000 francs, five times his usual wages.
Zidane did not play with the first team during the 1989/90 season but would become a regular for the 1990/91 season. Cannes would have a great season, finishing in fourth place and qualifying for the UEFA Cup. However, the good times were short-lived; their European adventure saw AS Cannes fall in the round of 16 against FC Dynamo Moscow. Things wouldn’t work much better in the league, finishing in 19th place. Despite 5 goals in 31 games, Zidane was unable to help Cannes avoid relegation. After four seasons in Cannes, he was bound to move to greener pastures and there was no lack of offers. Olympique de Marseille, with Bernard Tapie as president, made the first approach. It would have been a homecoming, but Bordeaux got in the middle.
Girondins de Bordeaux had been one of the most important clubs in the Championnat de France during the 1980s. They had only missed the league podium twice (4th in 1982 and 13th in 1989) and won three titles (1984, 1985 and 1987) and two cups (1986 and 1987). At the European level, they reached the semi-finals of the European Cup in 1985, and the Cup Winners’ Cup semi-finals in 1987. However, after an administrative relegation in 1991, they were looking to regain their edge after their immediate promotion back to the top tier.
First-team coach Rolland Courbis, who was also from Marseille, saw Zidane as his big bet. Alain Afflelou, as president, fully supported him. Four players from Girondins de Bordeaux moved to the French Riviera in exchange for three from Cannes, Zidane among them. During the first training sessions, the manager hears how Jean-François Daniel and Eric Guerit, the two players who arrived with him from Cannes, call him Ziz. He simply adds two vowels. Zizou was born.
Zidane quickly made a home at Bordeaux. He was accompanied by Veronique, his girlfriend from Cannes and they lived together in a house downtown. At training, he met Christophe Dugarry, who had been his teammate in an under-16 tournament in Malaga. The striker had been at Girondins since 1988 and showed him the city. He also began to build a good relationship with Bixente Lizarazu. The three later became world champions with France and remain close friends.
During that first season, Rolland Courbis helped him a lot both on a personal and football level. He took care of him and tried not to over-expose the youngster. He subbed him off after 60 minutes in many games. He also began to give him responsibilities within the team. For example, he allowed him to share direct free-kick duties with the veterans of the squad, which ended up becoming one of his specialities. Zidane isn’t oblivious to all of this: “The truth is that at first I wasn’t Platini, but little by little I gained confidence because they were letting me in. There was a ritual with the public, that when they saw that there was a foul and they were going to throw it, they began to shout “Zizou” Zizou!” and more than putting pressure on me, it really helped me sharpen my aim”.
Of course, things would get better and better for Zidane as a Marine et Blanc. At the beginning of the 1994/95 season, his first great opportunity with the National Team arrived. As fate would have it, it would be at Bordeaux’s Parc Lescure. Aimé Jacquet was building a new team after France failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup. With a preparatory friendly against Czechoslovakia coming up, AS Monaco’s Youri Djorkaeff was injured, so the manager called upon homeboy Zizou. The match was going badly for Les Bleus, down 2-0 when Zizou was subbed in on the 63rd minute. He would score two goals to tie the game and come off as a hero.
He would confirm his status as one of the world’s best during the 1995-96 season. With Bordeaux focused on their UEFA Cup campaign, they faced Fabio Capello’s Milan in the quarterfinals. After a 2-0 victory for the Rossoneri in San Siro, things looked settled. Far from it. The second leg was a Zidane masterclass, with two goals by Dugarry from two assists from Zidane, and a third one by Didier Tholot to bring the European giants to their feet. Bordeaux would reach the final, losing to Bayern Munich 5-1 on aggregate, but that display against Milan was all the top clubs needed. And FC Barcelona were the keenest.
Luis Fernández was the first person who spoke to Johan Cruyff about Zinedine Zidane. Back when he was Cannes manager, he used to travel to Barcelona regularly to watch training sessions and talk to his hero. Cruyff who had personally called Zidane on the phone, they had met, they had agreed that he would sign for Barça, a team that, as things are, excited him then. But it was not to be.
The relationship between Barcelona president Josep Lluís Núñez and Cruyff was broken and the Dutch coach was fired. It would be a blow for Zizou, as he saw his dream of playing at the Camp Nou disappear. Juventus took advantage of this, with Bianconeri legend Michel Platini recommending the signing of Zidane to president Gianni Agnelli. The French playmaker was signed for 35 million francs, just 5.3 million euros in today’s money.
Zidane always looks fondly upon his time at the French capital of wine. “I could have gone to Marseille, it’s my home, but I think I was right in choosing Bordeaux. From the beginning, I was struck by the fact that its people are like me. Quiet, reserved. There is a lot of discretion. I like that mentality. I was in my environment.” Perhaps Zizou, just like the vin de Bordèu in the barriques, aged just the right amount of time to blossom into the best player he could be.
Girondins de Bordeaux in the 1992/93 MadScientist Database
French football is in turmoil. Back to back semi-final appearances in the 1982 and 1986 World Cup (sandwiching a European title in 1984) contrasted starkly with the failure to qualify for the 1990 edition. A hugely talented side failed to make an impact in the 1992 European Championship under a coach (Platini) that struggled to get his message across to his players, and they would once again fail to qualify for the World Cup in 1994. However, in just four years France would lift the World Cup for the first time, and their second European Championship two years later.
They achieved all this on the shoulders of a new generation of players, arguably their best ever, under the leadership of players like Zidane, Henry, Vieira, Deschamps and Thuram. The French league is about to become real fun, real quick, so strap on let’s take a look at what we can find at Bordeaux.
Economy and Facilities
As one of the top French clubs of the era, the Marines et Blancs have the facilities to prove it. The Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux is a magnificent venue, the 5th largest in Ligue 1. This guarantees you’ll have an influx of loyal fans every other week ready to support the team and make you a solid gateway income in the process. With great training facilities for the first team and excellent ones for the youth sides, you won’t need to invest there for a while. However, a push might be required to update the youth recruitment and junior coaching infrastructures, which are only average and adequate respectively.
Economically, the club is in a good place, with enough cash (some €24M) in the bank and projecting plenty of growth, something that will surely improve if you manage to get into the European competitions.
In terms of competitiveness, the board is demanding but not delusional. We might be some 20 years from QIA’s purchase of PSG, but you still have an overly funded, corruption suspected rival in Bernard Tapie’s Olympique Marseille. The Bordeaux board is only expecting you to qualify for the Champions League, which can be achieved by finishing in third position.
From then on, the idea is for the club to become the best of the rest, a position perhaps best occupied by Arsène Wenger’s AS Monaco in real life. They would also like you to make some waves in the Coupe de France, reaching the semi-finals.
The man we’re all here for, Zinedine Zidane is sure to be the main creative force for your side. At just 20 years old and with a head full of hair, he has all the flair, creativity and technical skill necessary to hold the position for years to come, and with plenty of potential and that driven personality he can only get better.
You’ll have a tough job trying to keep him in France; he’s yet to gather interest from elsewhere, but he will eventually. With just two years remaining in his contract, you’ll do good to put him on a long term deal, even if it costs you astronomical wages.
I had some difficulties choosing someone for this spot, as I almost went with Bixente Lizarazu. The diminutive wing-back will be another of your key performers early on, but in the end I decided to stick with Zidane’s tour guide, Christophe Dugarry.
With as complete a technical skillset as you can possibly desire, tall and fast and with decent football smarts, Dugarry is the quintessential complete striker. Whether you decide to use him in tandem with someone (like the partnership he had with Didier Tholot) or a lone striker (since the sole natural striker on the squad), he’s bound to thrive with the service of Zidane. The best part? He’s only 20 years old.
Young mavericks and geniuses are all fine and well, but a great team also needs some muscle and a cool head at the back. At 33 years old, Senac brings you just that. His legs might be going, but he remains a tenacious and skilled defender.
Moreover, his Model Professional personality and high leadership make him invaluable in such a young team, as he can help in shaping his teammates, particularly 22-year-olds Marcio Santos and Bixente Lizarazu.
Unlike previous clubs we’ve looked at, Bordeaux is quite limited in terms of transfer budget. With €9.35M in the bank and no wage budget available, we have to be a bit thrifty to improve our squad for the first season. Let’s look at some possibilities.
For a side that features one of the best creative 10s in the history of football, Bordeaux is surprisingly short on attacking mids. With no natural right wingers apart from Brazilian Valdeir, you’ll need some improvements.
Arístizabal, a Colombian winger from Atlético Nacional, brings speed and flair to the table, and at just 20 years old he’s got a lot of room to grow. You can fetch him for just €1.5M and decent wages, making him a smart buy.
One suggested by the scouts in-game, we continue adding to our attacking rotation with 21-year-old left-winger Serge-Alain Maguy. One for the future as much as the present, Maguy has a lot of potential but can contribute to your team from the get-go.
Devilishly quick, with a great left foot for a cross and excellent technique, he’ll fight Patrice Marquet (one of only two natural left wingers, the other being Zidane), particularly as the Frenchman offers far less excitement in terms of attacking output. You can find the Ivorian at Africa Sports in the country’s top tier, and he will only cost you €250k and very agreeable wages.
Like I mentioned before, Dugarry is the sole pure striker in the squad (apart from Valdeir, but you’ll need him as a right winger). So, for the last position to reinforce, I looked into a striker that can play understudy to Dugarry. Truth be told, you could probably pick up any (or both) of 14-year-olds Thierry Henry or David Trezeguet (from Monaco’s U19 and Platense’s U20 respectively), but you know me, I hate to play the hindsight card.
So why not take a chance with Romanian striker Gheorghe Craioveanu from Universitatea Craiova. The would-be Real Sociedad striker missed out on his country’s quarter finals run during the 1994 World Cup but remains an interesting player. At 24, he’s the finished product so you can rotate him from the start with Dugarry instead of having to wait until he goes through puberty. Moreover, he’s every bit as complete as the Frenchman, so he’ll be able to tackle anything you throw at him. He can be yours for as little as €1.2M and cheap wages.