Two titles, a Coupe de France, three semi-finals and a European final: the 1990s saw AS Monaco join the European elite.
The 1990s began with fresh success in the Coupe de France; thanks to a goal from Gérald Passi scored in the last seconds of the final, AS Monaco triumphed over OM, thus taking revenge for the final of 1989. In the league, the situation was, different, though, with two consecutive second place finishes behind the Marseillais in 1990-1991 and 1991-1992. This last season was one of the most beautiful and also disappointing in the history of the club. In the hunt on three fronts: the league, Coupe de France, and Cupwinners Cup, the club would end the season without any trophy. Qualified for the final of the Coupe de France after a victory against AS Cannes in the semifinal, the Rouge et Blanc would never play the final due to the tragedy that had occurred in Bastia before the other semi-final could take place, the day before the first European final of AS Monaco against Werder Bremen in Lisbon. In a cheerless Stade de la Luz, the team looked aimless in its match, and lost 2-0 with a certain anonymity, leaving the Cup Winners’ Cup to the Germans.
Jean-Luc Ettori: 755 matches
At a time when only the winner of the league could compete in the Champions League, AS Monaco took advantage of the disqualification of OM in 1993 to play in a reformatted Champions League, with a group stage replacing the early rounds. Arsène Wenger’s would men reach the semi-finals stage, stopped by the future winners, AC Milan it was to the detriment of their league form, where they finish ninth despite having Djorkaëff, Thuram, Petit, Klinsmann, and Scifo in their ranks… At the end of the 1993-1994 season, Jean-Luc Ettori, then the record holder for the number of matches played in Ligue 1, would play his 755th and last match in Monegasque colors to become the record holder for matches played with AS Monaco, but also for matches played in Ligue 1 (602, a record broken in 2013 by Mickaël Landreau). For his part, after seven years of good and loyal service, Arsène Wenger left his post the following season.
The Monegasque reign
It was Jean Tigana who would take charge of the team after an interlude with Gérard Banide and qualification for the UEFA Cup. The former member of the Carre Magique lead AS Monaco to their sixth title of champion of France at the end of the 1996-1997 season, which coincided with the celebrations in the Principality of the 700 years of reign of the Grimaldi family. Under his direction, AS Monaco were one of the most impressive teams in the history of the club, with, among others, Barthez, Petit, Benarbia, Henry, Anderson, and Ikpeba. It was an exceptional season at all levels with another European semifinal, in the Europa League being reached, only to fall short against Inter Milan.
With the European elite
The next season would be almost as impressive. Despite the departures of Sonny Anderson, Manu Petit and Gilles Grimandi, AS Monaco finished fourth in the league and would reach the semifinals of the Champions League, after eliminating Manchester United in the quarterfinals, with a memorable goal by David Trezeguet at Old Trafford. But it was once more an Italian side, Juventus this time, which would deprive the Monegasques of a long-awaited final by winning 4-1 in the first leg. A 3-2 victory in the return fixture would be insufficient for qualification, but AS Monaco came out proud and felt a part of the elite of European football. With the departure of Jean Tigana, replaced by Claude Puel in January 1999, the 1998-1999 season was less brilliant, despite a third place finish in the league.
Champions at the turn of the millennium!
But this decade of high flying ended even better than it had started, with the team obtaining a seventh title in the spring of 2000. The “Millenium Team” was made up of exceptional players such as Barthez, Marquez, Lamouchi, Gallardo, Trezeguet and even Simone who brought AS Monaco into the 21st Century in top spot.