He is 35 years old, he lives with his partner and his two children in Folschviller in Moselle, and he has supported AS Monaco since he was little. A supervisor in the prison system, his often staggered schedules do not prevent him from seeing his favorite team a dozen times a year. He also organizes trips with the group he created himself, the “Legiun Munegu 57”. This is Cédric, an early fan of the Red and Whites, who fell in love one summer vacation in Beausoleil.
“On the way, my father told me that we were going to go see a match at the Stade Louis-II with my uncle. I remember it was Monaco-Auxerre. It was love at first sight,” he explains, starry-eyed. I remember that the store was right next to the stadium at the time and I immediately bought the diagonal jersey “, remembers this fan who was lucky enough to speak for an extended period with Lilian Thuram, at the end of a physiotherapy session.
A special moment with Lilian Thuram
A few days after having experience his first match from the famous yellow seats, Cédric decides to go with his father and his little brother to the training center of La Turbie, then under construction. The place is deserted. “At that moment, a former physiotherapist of the club comes out of an Algeco, and asks us what we are looking for. Two minutes later he comes back again and asked Lilian Thuram if we can come and speak with him — he accepted. We sat at his side for close to an hour, it’s a truly lasting memory, “says Cédric, aware that he has experienced a special moment from the age of 10 years with the future 1998 World Champion.
“We returned to the training camp a few days later and my brother was talking to Lilian as if he knew him. At the time there was also Fabien Barthez, Emmanuel Petit, Basile Boli, Eric Di Meco, Sonny Anderson, it was exceptional “, he continues, while recalling the first European runs of AS Monaco and the” charisma “of Jean Tigana on the Monaco bench. Soon thereafter, he gradually began to travel with his father to Nancy, Strasbourg, Troyes and Reims, the Lorraine-born fan’s passion for the Principality club therefore growing stronger and stronger.
The first big European campaigns
But it is obviously the big confrontations in the UEFA Cup and in the Champions League that really impresed him: “There was the semifinal of the UEFA Cup against Inter in 1997 which comes back to me in memory and which remains my first big European memory. The match in the Champions League against Juve in 1998 was also terrible for me. And then the run to the final in 2004 was extraordinary. ” Extraordinary, so much so that he will experience one of his biggest emotions supporting AS Monaco in front of his TV, with all his family.
“There are two matches that stand out for me emotionally. There was the return leg against Real Madrid that I experienced with my father and my uncles. Unfortunately I had not managed to get a ticket to go to the Louis-II. When we were ahead 3-1, Raul scored with a header and the goal was disallowed for offside. I was nervous at the time. It was indescribable the feeling of having beaten the great Real Madrid, these Galacticos,” remembers Cédric, a bit nostalgic.
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The Emirates, an unforgettable memory
“Then in 2015 there was the match against Arsenal at the Emirates. I made the trip for the occasion. We came with a team decimated by absences, at the time their style of play was heavily criticized, and the Gunners were coming off a 12-game unbeaten streak.. Almamy Touré was even playing his first match at a very high level, and was tasked with marking Alexis Sanchez,” he recalls, believing that Monaco had little chance of achieving progression in this Champions League Round of 16 tie.
“We were 3000 in the stands, it was one of the biggest trips in history I think. There was a spirit that allowed us to believe. And when Berbatov scored his goal, as a former Manchester United player, it was huge. Even when they closed the gap and then we put the goal in to make it 3-1, it was magic. There was President Rybolovlev, HSH Prince Albert II and Valère Germain’s father, accompanied by his wife, with us in the gallery, we stayed at least 20-25 minutes singing after the final whistle, it was really great. ”
Traveling everywhere, even in Ligue 2
These strong emotions, however, were also part of the experience for Cédric when AS Monaco was at its lowest ebb, fighting for survival. “In terms of the passion that I have for the club, the results have no impact. Besides, the relegation battle is different. Even when we were last in Ligue 2, four points from safety, when the president bought the club, we continued to travel everywhere, to Clermont, to unlikely stadiums,” he notes. “In this situation, you fight for every goal, every point, and I think the emotions were even stronger than the title year in 2017 for example, where we dominated everyone.”
Sunday, it is in the top flight that he will show up as a fan of the Rouge et Blanc away to Metz, at the Stade Saint-Symphorien. Unfortunately, it’s been difficult to get hold of a ticket in these times of a health crisis. “Even before the this (interview conducted Tuesday, editor’s note), I was trying to get a place on the right to the left. There are 5000 places, less the 500 people of the club. That leaves few possibilities, especially as they give priority places to season ticket holders from last season and to those who donated to the club. They will put tickets for sale for season ticket holders of this season. I have 2-3 possibilities, I am keeping hope.”
“I’m lucky my wife understands my passion”
This time, he will perhaps go alone to the stadium, even if he has developed the habit, sometimes, to be accompanied by his wife and children: “I am lucky that my wife understands my passion and that she accepts it. Our first vacation was in the Monaco region, everything was quickly conditioned by that. When we travel to the Stade Louis II with my group, it’s 2000 kilometers to cover and we have to take three days off. It requires sacrifices. But this passion is really something that I try to convey,” admits Cédric, delighted to be able to share a little of this passion.
It’s a passion which has continued for 25 years now, and which will continue with a new project. “I am working near the German border and I know the Bundesliga quite well. I think that Niko Kovac is a hardworking coach and that it can be a good thing to get some players out of their comfort zone. I am quite confident, even if we know that it can take time before getting things up and running,” the Lorrain resident readily concedes, who has often been the object of mockery in his region, in relation to his feeling of belonging to the club from the Rock.
AS Monaco on his skin
But no matter, his passion has always been stronger than the rest: “In primary school there were 80% who were for Metz, 10% for Marseille but I was the only one to be for Monaco. And even now , there isn’t a day when I don’t get teased by a colleague. But it’s different, they tease me at first but then I quickly recall what it is for me and the story of the club. Anyway, very often those who criticize, they are armchair fans.”
As to his own armchair, he hopes not to be there this Sunday at 3pm, but to be able to support the team whose badge he has tattooed on his left wrist, with the words: “Daghe Munegu per tugiu”. Despite the distance, despite the criticism, he will be there. Whatever happens, Cédric will always be behind the Red and White, at the top and at the bottom. Everywhere, always!