FACT OF THE DAY Gérard Banide, the Gard memory of Euro 84

While the Euro started on Friday and the French football team begins its European Nations Championship tomorrow against Austria (at 9 p.m.), the Blues are celebrating forty years since the Euro victory 84. Four decades later, Uzètien Gérard Banide, who was then assistant coach to Michel Hidalgo, looks back on his memories. Meeting with a technician like no other.

Nothing could happen to us! I didn’t feel any pressure. We had confidence in ourselves. We were strong in all lines.” Forty years after the legendary victory of the French football team, a Gardois remembers this blessed era of French sport. In the summer of 1984, the Blues were at the top of their game and probably on top of the world. The French team has perhaps never been so strong. At the heart of this founding moment of French football, is Gérard Banide (87 years old today), based in Uzès for more than 30 years. Assistant coach (and also in charge of goalkeepers) Michel Hidalgo was born on July 12, which for football fans mainly refers to the first World Cup won by France in 1998.

“The inauguration of Beaujoire and the 5-0 against Belgium, it’s a very beautiful memory”

But let’s return to this famous European Nations Championship of 1984: “The first image that comes to mind is the inauguration of the La Beaujoire stadium (in Nantes, Editor’s note) with a 5-0 victory against Belgium. It’s a very nice memory, the stadium was magnificent,” remembers Gérard Banide. This competition is quite an adventure since it comes two years after the Spanish World Cup where the Blues revealed themselves to the world. As the organizing country, France must justify its status as favorite, especially since during the qualifiers, Italy, the Netherlands, the USSR, Poland and England fell by the wayside. After an internship in Font-Romeu (Pyrénées-Orientales), the French began the competition with a narrow victory over Denmark (1-0): “ It was perhaps the hardest to understand because it is the first », underlines Gérard Banide.

A magnificent horizontal from Gérard Banide then OAC goalkeeper • Private archives Gérard Banide

“Saved by a magical action of Tigana and Platini”

Then, the Blues put Belgium through the mill (5-0) and Michel Platini saved France by scoring a hat-trick against Yugoslavia (3-2). The serious things begin in the semi-final with Portugal in Marseille. Two years after the trauma of Seville (elimination on penalties against West Germany), the Blues fell behind (1-2) five minutes from the end of extra time before Domergue and Platini gave France victory. “ We conceded a goal from Jordao against the run of play and it could have gone the wrong way, but we were saved by a magical action from Tigana and Platini. recalls the Uzétien. It’s finally the apotheosis with the final against Spain and Luis Arconada’s blunder on the first French goal (57th). But Gérard Banide, the former goalkeeper, wants to defend the Basque goalkeeper.

Gérard Banide with Michel Platini during French team training • Photo: Norman Jardin

“Criticizing Arconada is like being harsh with a waiter who spills a drink”

Balls that touch the ground and are close to the body are the most difficult to catch. It was a hand fault but Arconada was a great goalkeeper. Criticizing him for this action is like being harsh with a waiter who spills a drink. “. The French complete the masterpiece with a second goal at the end of the match. It is the work of Bruno Bellone: “He showed finesse and great class, a perfect achievement,” analyzes the technician. Then come the celebrations, the jubilation and the party but without Gérard Banide: “I’m not very demonstrative. Football comes down to what you do on the pitch and in training, the rest doesn’t interest me. » But the former coach wants to twist the blow on a legend.

Gérard Banide goes jogging with Joél Bats in Mexico • Private archives Gérard Banide

“Platini?” Even with belotte and boules, he was very strong”

Was the real coach Michel Hidalgo or Michel Platini? “ It was Michel Hidalgo who made the team. For example, in Nantes against Belgium, he decided to put Luis Fernandez at right back to have an additional midfielder and it worked. He had enough ideas to decide for himself. On the other hand, for Michel Platini to give him an opinion was possible and desirable. “. Michel Platini was the best player in the world in 1984, but how can we define him four decades later? “ It was the technique simplified to the extreme. He had a vision that was astonishing. He didn’t need to make three checks to give away a ball. He was a great player and a winner in every game. Even with belotte and boules, he was very strong. He’s the greatest player I’ve ever been around.”.

Gérard Banide with the staff of the French team during the 1986 World Cup • Private archives Gérard Banide

The French handball champion signs with the OAC

But Gérard Banide’s career is not limited to this summer of 1984. There was a before and an after. Even if his lilting accent makes him a southerner, it was in Paris that he was born and it was first of all in handball that he excelled: “ I was French handball champion with SMUC (Stade Marseille University Club, Editor’s note) at seven, but I sometimes played handball at eleven on a football field. » The switch to football took place while he was playing it during his military service: “ The Sétois Marcel Tomazover came to offer me a tryout for Alès against Draguignan and I was accepted. » The Cévennes adventure only lasted around twenty matches in four seasons: “I wasn’t a great player. »

Champion of France with the ASM in 1980, the Uzétien was congratulated by Prince Rainier III of Monaco. • Private archives Gérard Banide

An internship at the Normal School of Nîmes

It was nevertheless in Alès that Gérard met Jacqueline who has shared her life with him ever since. “When I wanted to marry him, my mother-in-law told me: “Footballer is not a job”, so I was sharing my time between law school and flea markets, with my grandfather who was an antiques dealer, I decided to go into teaching after an internship at the Ecole Normale de Nîmes. I then took my diplomas to become a coach and I was in the same room as Robert Herbin “.

Pibarot, Firoud, Barlaguet and the others…

A new career began for Gérard who studied at La Grand’Combe before joining the National Football Institute (INF Vichy) created in 1972. There he worked alongside Pierre Pibarot for whom he maintained great respect: “ He helped me and taught me football. He was a tactical master. At that time, coaches had playing styles and they gave their team an identity. Kader Firoud was not interested in midfield, Albert Batteux wanted to keep the ball. With Robert Domergue, each player had a zone, and José Arribas advocated a game without the ball. Pierre Barlaguet was also a friend. We had common ideas with Michel Hidalgo. A game based on ball control, zonal attack and defense rather than individual marking. »

L’Uzétien makes wooden characters • Photo: Norman Jardin

Alain Giresse: “A lot of rigor and attention for his players”

Talking about the game and the technicians is what the Uzétien likes. It must be said that his coaching career was brilliant with a French championship title in 1982 and a Coupe de France in 1980 with AS Monaco and a lost final with Olympique de Marseille in 1987. ” He is a very conscientious, very professional person with a lot of rigor and attention to his players. He has a very simple, very natural and straightforward approach. We get hooked straight away with this kind of trainer », agrees Alain Giresse, eminent member of the magic square. Football is also about sincere friendships like the one between the former coach and his players. With Joël Bats for example, who comes to see him regularly in Uzès.

The former footballer successfully devotes himself to painting. • Photo: Norman Jardin

Joël Bats: “He gave us confidence and serenity. He is an extraordinary man”

He brought us confidence and serenity. He is an extraordinary man », insists the former goalkeeper of the France team. Gérard Banide loves football but not only: “ We regularly get up very early in the morning to go to flea markets or garage sales. », explains Jacqueline, his wife. Agile with his hands when he was a goalkeeper, the adopted Gardois has retained his manual dexterity. In his spare time, he devotes himself to artistic painting, but also to writing, drawing and making wooden figures. Not to display, just for pleasure or to give to friends.

This lover of masterpieces does not forget the Euro won by the Hidalgo gang, this group which was also his. Forty years later, the heroes of 1984, with Gérard Banide, are the only ones who can legitimately claim to be: “Forever the first”.

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