Manu, in 2003, while you were wearing the colors of Olympique Marseille, AS Monaco won at Stade Vélodrome in the semi-finals of the League Cup. Do you remember this game?
I remember it very well, I was on the field that day. If memory serves, we lost 1-0 on a Dado Prso goal. He had scored by cutting in at the far post on a cross from Jerome Rothen, something well-worked in this Monegasque team that was coached by Didier Deschamps.
This season 2019-2020 marks the last edition of the League Cup, what memories does the competition inspire in you?
It inspires in me especially the regret of having been stopped twice in the semifinals. There was 2003, but also another semifinal lost against Nice with AS Monaco in 2006. It was at Stade Louis II, we had dominated, but Nice had scored in the last minutes. However, for me the Coupe de la Ligue was a competition with matches of good level to play and European qualification at the end. But it never really took root here, while in England it’s a competition that has been running for a long time.
You have experienced AS Monaco – OM matches from both sides. What does this rivalry represent for a player?
In my day there was still a little bit of the identity aspect, but I feel less of that today. Football is a reflection of society and with globalization the culture of football players has evolved. That said, AS Monaco – Olympique de Marseille is still a big rivalry with a real story behind it, so it’s still not a match like the others.
What is the atmosphere around a young matchup between AS Monaco – OM, especially the U17 National side you train?
With the little ones it’s different. We are more in touch with the idea of identity because we travel less far than the pros and facing Marseille is a reference match for the season in the same way as Nice, Montpelier or Nîmes, the other professional clubs that we face in our group. There is supremacy at stake.
For your part what do you remember from your experiences as a player at AS Monaco and Olympique Marseille?
Marseille, that’s where I really came into being as a player, where I could best express myself. OM is always in my heart, but AS Monaco is in my blood forever. I wore this shirt at the age of five, it’s my club! I grew up there, from football school to the pros, I almost finished my career there* and today I have the chance to work with young people. It is necessarily special. Since we are talking about this derby between AS Monaco and OM, I remember for example the confrontations between the two teams in the late 80s and early 90s. I was going to see the big matches with the fans at the time, I was thoroughly involved. And what matches! There has always been a big rivalry between these two clubs.
Do you remember an AS Monaco – OM duel that was more striking than the others?
I remember a match in 2004, when I played for Marseille. It was early May and on Wednesday we watched the Monegasques qualify for the Champions League final in Chelsea. The next day, we did the same in the Europa League by beating Newcastle. And the following weekend we played and lost in the league against AS Monaco at Stade Louis-II. Ludo Giuly scored a goal in extra time, but the real worry was the injury of Didier Drogba who had been hit in the ribs. His injury dragged on to the final we lost against Valencia a few weeks later. And AS Monaco also lost against Porto … But having two French clubs in a European final the same season was still exceptional.