This summer during the transfer window, So Foot returns every day of the week to a transfer that marked its time in its own way. For this tenth opus, heading east for the story of a meeting between a club, FC Metz, and a colorful character, Jules Bocandé, which still resonates today as the beginning of the romance between the Garnets and Senegal.

In this year 1984, France is preparing to live a Euro at home and each household hopes to have a television set to follow the adventures of the Platoche gang on its small screen. But in his living room, Carlo Molinari has another concern. If the emblematic president of FC Metz can, by virtue of his function, attend as many matches as he wants from the stadium, he is then in a strange fight with his cathode ray tube. And for good reason, the Moselle geography prevents him from following Belgian football correctly. “I lived at that time on a hill and this hill bothered me to capture the imagessays the ex-boss garnet. I had put a Belgian antenna at my office in Maizières-lès-Metz, in the dish. And that’s where I could watch the Belgian championship. » Whether don carlo absolutely wants to have an eye on this side of the border, it’s because a small phenomenon of 25 years is bursting the screen in the Liège region: Jules Bocandé.

Gaston, there’s the phone that’s

This Senegalese is a safe bet in the Belgian elite. It has already been four years since a friend of his family introduced him to the kingdom of Baudouin. Anyway, he could no longer play in the country since the native of Ziguinchor had been suspended – initially for life – for tripping the referee in a stormy Senegal Cup final in 1980, then opposing his club Casa Sport to ASC Jeanne d’Arc. His talent was exported to Tournai then to Seraing. FC Metz, as a good border club, has always prospected on the other side of the Ardennes. And in this year 1984, everything is aligned to attract the nugget of Steelworkers. “His last season, I think he was 22 or 23 goals with Seraing. With S’raing, as they sayMolinari corrects himself, opting for a Belgian accent to cut with a knife. Me, I learn that Seraing is in economic difficulty, that they are going to file for bankruptcy. I had a friend who was a journalist in Luxembourg. I called him, I told him: “Discuss with your Belgian colleagues what to do, what are the steps to recover Bocandé.” » At this time when scouts and recruitment cells are embryonic, it’s getting by. And in this little game, Carlo Molinari knows all the tricks.
Gaston, the friend in question, will call back two days later, confirming the Walloons’ fund problems. The club is in the hands of a liquidator with whom the Lorraine management decides to make direct contact. Finally, not so directly, since the Pres’ takes advantage of its summer holidays. “It fell when I was going on vacation to Ajacciorecalls the president. At the time, I always went on vacation there. I went there 13 times in the space of 14 years, because the sports director of AC Ajaccio (Antoine Federicci) ran the hotel (the Dolce Vita, on the Sanguinaires road, Ed). A large number of club presidents met there in the summer. » With his toes fanned out, but his mind on business, Molinari gave power of attorney to his friend Gaston. ” I told him : “Offer 900,000 francs and you’ll see what he’s going to say.” We offered 900,000 francs and he accepted. In Belgium, 900,000 francs was money, and I had to send a telex to confirm that we had paid right away. The liquidator wanted it to go into the funds quickly. So we got Jules Bocandé for 900,000 francs, while I sold him two years later to PSG for ten and a half million francs…”

Sacred evenings

Behind this anecdote straight out of a world where you could sign a contract on a piece of tablecloth and sign an agreement with a handshake, it is above all one of the most beautiful shots of FC Metz that has been achieved. Beyond the capital gain made two years later on resale, it is above all the luck of having been able to count on such an exceptional boy on the field and off it. On the field side, Jules Bocandé participated, with Tony Kurbos, Philippe Hinschberger, Michel Ettore or Luc Sonor, in writing the most beautiful page in the club’s European history at the Croix de Lorraine with the elimination of FC Barcelona at Camp Nou a evening of October 1984. He will also finish top scorer in D1 at the end of the 1985-1986 season, with 23 goals on the clock, even if he “didn’t have a left foot” as Carlo Molinari concedes: “He had no power in his shot. It was always goalscoring goals, always placed in the right place. »

But if Metz was marked by the Senegalese international (73 selections, 20 goals), it is also thanks to his presence in the entertainment areas, especially on the Tiffany side. Whether in this downtown bar or elsewhere, he does not leave the fairer sex unmoved. “Wherever I went, girls asked me for an autograph signed by him, even his phone number. To all of them, I gave the same answer: “With Jules, ladies, it’s like at Air Inter, there is a waiting list.” » So much so that around him and his nocturnal activities float a whole bunch of legends. Like this time when a police patrol meets him at the exit of the Tiff’ and offers to take him home. “Bocandé in a police car, it did not go unnoticed. The craziest rumors ran. It was said that I had gone to look for him at the prison of Queuleu to have him released.smiles Molinari, without hiding the truth about his protege either. Jules had his excesses. When training started at nine o’clock in the morning, he was able to arrive only at ten o’clock. It was like that, you had to deal with it. However, it wouldn’t have occurred to anyone to reproach him. Because on the ground, Jules gave everything. »

The beginning of the love story between Metz and Senegal

An emotional bond, indelible, is then created and it will be stretched for years. Already when the one who had become the assistant of Bruno Metsu or Guy Stéphan on the bench of the Lions of Teranga suffered a stroke. “The first thought he had for treatment was to return to Metz. That says everything about his attachmenttestifies his friend Carlo. I had set up the whole medical chain to treat him, but unfortunately, when he came, it was already too late. The operation itself went well, but there were complications. » Jules Bocandé died on May 7, 2012, on the banks of the Seille, a spring when FC Metz plunged into National.

His legacy is, however, in a way, still alive. By being the first Senegalese to wear the garnet jersey, he participated in building a bridge between the Moselle prefecture and his country of origin.“Since Jules’s visit, we have always maintained excellent relations with the Senegalese. He was also a great character there and, thanks to him, Metz was known and loved in Senegal. , assures Carlo Molinari. The partnership established in 2003 with Génération Foot, the academy created by Mady Touré and from which Babacar Gueye, Papiss Cissé, Diafra Sakho, Sadio Mané, Ismaïla Sarr, Habib Diallo or even Pape Matar Sarr came, is only the logical continuation of this story. Even if, today, Carlo Molinari does not need to work hard to capture the Senegalese D1 matches.

By Mathieu Rollinger
Words by Carlo Molinari collected by MR or taken fromgarnet blood by Pierre Théobald (Quotidien Editions).

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