Beaten in 1924, Switzerland is European football champion

Beaten in Colombes, Switzerland is European football champion

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This Saturday afternoon against Hungary, the Swiss football team will enter the 2024 European Championship. A competition that it has never won. And yet, exactly a century ago, it was June 9, 1924, the Nati were crowned European champions. An unofficial title (read below)acquired on an evening of… defeat at the Parisian Colombes stadium.

The framework of this 3-0 loss against Uruguay? The 1924 Olympic Games held in the French capital. The Swiss lost in the final to a dazzling and little-known Céleste (the nickname of the South American selection) on this side of the Atlantic. But before that, the red eleven with a white cross, led by the Englishman Teddy Duckworth, produced a copy worthy of praise.

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Many Romands appear in the list of 22 composed by the man who trains Servette in parallel. There is obviously Neuchâtel star Max Abegglen, terror of the penalty area who scores 6 goals in 6 matches in this tournament.

One Vaudois, six Genevans

In attack, the founder of FC Xamax can rely on Vaudois Robert Pache. Future coach of LS (1931-1932 season), Morgien then played under Servettian colors.

The Garnets are also present in large numbers. Pache included, there are six of them taking part in the Olympic trip. Defender Adolphe Reymond plays all the matches there. Basel native Walter Dietrich played five and scored two goals. A year earlier, he played in the second division at Forward Morges. Also an offensive element, Félix Bédouret makes a single appearance on the meadow.

Midfielder Louis Richard is not used. Like full-back Charles Bouvier. He “made up for it” twelve years later by becoming Olympic champion… in 4-man bob.

Two others Genvoys, “exiles” also returned home as silver medalists: Adolphe Mengotti and Edmond Kramer lined up in the same match won against the Czechs. The son of a diplomat, the first then shared his time as a footballer between Real Madrid and Servette, depending on his father’s professional comings and goings. As for the future player of Urania Genève Sport, LS and Servette, he led the right flank of the Cantonal Neuchâtel attack at the time.

From surprise to surprise

This band achieves an authentic feat. Which no one expected given the high level of the competition, the leaders no more than the supporters. The return ticket train they booked expired more than a week before the June 9 final.

But in the opening, on May 25, the teammates of goalkeeper Pulver mistreated Lithuania (9-0). A century later, this result still constitutes the largest victory for the Nati. The Swiss are in 8e final and it is Czechoslovakia which advances in front of them. A team that is said to play the best football in Europe.

The Swiss are also quickly led. So much the better, since they no longer have a hotel room reserved. But Walter Dietrich equalized ten minutes from time: the match had to be replayed two days later.

In 1977, Friedrich Dürrenmatt returned to the Swiss exploit of 1924 through a series soberly entitled “Footballeur”.

The frenzy is sweeping the country. Thousands of fans gather in front of the editorial offices in Zurich, Bern, Geneva and Lausanne which provide the results of the matches. And they are responding en masse to the call from “Sport” which is organizing a collection to offer broke footballers something to extend their stay.

And so much the better, because a late goal from Morgien Pache in the “replay” sends Switzerland into the quarter rather than on the train. Yet favorite, Italy is also defeated (2-1). Like Sweden, June 5, on the same brand. In the wake of this victory, the national team receives telegraphic congratulations from Broyard President of the Confederation, Ernest Chuard.

De facto, Switzerland is the “European champion”. A resounding feat of which “La Tribune de Genève” takes the measure. “We can be beaten now, who cares. One thing will remain indelible, marvelous, and that is that old Europe, to defend its last chances, could not find a better qualified, more valiant representative than little Switzerland.”

In the “Geneva Tribune” of June 11, a magnificent snapshot of the final where despite the exploits of the Bernese goalkeeper Pulver and the tenacity of the Genevan Reymond, the Swiss clearly lost to Uruguay.

This match should have been broadcast live, but the weather thwarted what would have been a “first”. The country therefore only learned of the indisputable South American superiority (3-0) later. “The Uruguayans clearly dominate. Our players are tired. We are beaten by better people than us,” recognizes “La Tribune de Genève”.

But among fans, the relative disappointment is quickly erased. It was indeed as a hero that the delegation was welcomed by several thousand people at Basel station on June 10 at the end of the afternoon. “We can be proud of our team. The Swiss are European champions and it is already a great title and a great achievement,” concludes the “Lausanne Opinion Sheet”.

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