“She calls us after a match to debrief”: from grandmother to grandsons, the all-consuming passion for OGC Nice of this Côte d’Azur family

“She calls us after a match to debrief”: from grandmother to grandsons, the all-consuming passion for OGC Nice of this Côte d’Azur family
“She calls us after a match to debrief”: from grandmother to grandsons, the all-consuming passion for OGC Nice of this Côte d’Azur family

A large plastic crate full to bursting: “Yes, my father has a lot… a lot of OGC Nice jerseys.” Olivier is Martial’s son, Alexis’s brother and Monique’s grandson. In the Paganoni family, there is only one passion: football. So they happily pose for the photo in Nice-Matin, dressed in red and black. In their family, we are Aiglon from generation to generation. And the most fervent is perhaps this hilarious grandmother, a long-time subscriber to France Football.

At first reserved, she reveals herself as the discussion continues before launching into a mischievous smile: “I’m awful in a stadium! I remember a Nice-Bastia match at Ray, I was giving the Corsican fans the finger. My husband, Victor, told me to stop or they would wait for me at the exit. Nothing happened, don’t worry!”

Olivier continues, laughing: “Oh yeah, what bad words she says! She’s the worst of us.”

Matches for entertainment only

Perhaps because she is the one who started everything, who transmitted the virus. “We arrived in Nice in 1961 and we got married there with Victor that year, remembers Monique. At the time, we didn’t have much money, so to entertain ourselves, we went to the stadium. It was our only pleasure, but it meant a lot. We never stopped.”

So much so that Martial, the second of his three children “almost born on the edge of a lawn”: “On May 8, 1965, I was pregnant up to my eyes but I wanted to see Cannes-Nice at the Hespérides [le stade Louis-Grosso aujourd’hui]. Imagine: it was for promotion to the second division! The man at the stadium looked at me and asked me if I was sure I wanted to attend the match, with the emotions and all that. Think about it, I wasn’t going to turn back. Martial was finally born a few days later.”

The Cup in Paris in 97

The latter was not spared by passion. “Obviously, I played football when I was a kid at La Colle [où il réside encore]”His eldest son, Olivier, 39, took a little longer to get involved. “At first I watched it on TV, I liked it but I can’t say I was passionate. Until the day I was taken to see Nice-Rennes in 1995. Something clicked: that’s when I became a fan. Then, my grandmother took me to the Coupe de France final in 1997 at the Parc des Princes, we went up by TGV. I remember the victory.”

In the family home, a framed photo shows Alexis, then a toddler floating in a Gym jersey that was way too big, holding that famous cup. Memories flow with anecdotes. Catheline, Martial’s wife, is not very interested in football but out of love, she accepted that it would be the theme of her wedding in 1993. “The guests were dressed in red and black and the cake was a big ball on a field.”she jokes. “Each table was named after a player, adds Martial. Yes, that’s how it came to me: I asked her to marry me and a month later we were at the town hall! This theme was obvious. The president of OGC Nice at the time, André Bois, was supposed to come but he had an impediment.”

OGC Nice in the lead in 2025

Because in the end, “the Paga” as everyone calls them, have built up a nice address book. Sometimes even with nerve. Like Monique who had spotted a well-known name in her list of customers at the video club she ran: “Gilles Morisseau. Of course, that rang a bell, he was the goalkeeper for OGC Nice. So I went to talk to him and we got to know each other. His children were with my grandchildren at school. One day, there was a party for the kids and I went to see him. He had disappointed me during a match a few days earlier, I had to tell him!”

The octogenarian is still a fervent supporter. “But she doesn’t go to the stadium with us anymore. On the other hand, she watches all the matches on TV and calls us when it’s over to debrief.”confides Martial. Everyone has a favorite player “even if it’s a difficult question”Monique believes. She is Roger Piantoni; Martial, “It’s Cvitanitch” As for Olivier, no hesitation: “Ben Arfa! Lately, if there is one player who made me get up, it is Ben Arfa without a doubt.”

Past, present, future, the Paganoni swear to always be among the faithful, on the benches of the Populaire Sud with a single dream: “May OGC Nice finish first in 2025!”

A special cannon shot

Today, in addition to the traditional noon cannon shot, the people of Nice will hear a second one. Don’t worry. The one fired at exactly 7:04 p.m. will be linked to the celebrations of the 120th anniversary of OGC Nice and will kick off a very special show. As a reminder, the Château hill welcomes supporters, local residents and tourists all day long, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The programme is rich: activities on the theme of football and the Riviera, local gastronomy, exhibition on the 120 years, meeting with many former players, unveiling of the new jersey, show, presentation of the sports staff and players, musical entertainment, without forgetting the concert by Møme.

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