10 good reasons to love Raymond Domenech
Overseeing qualification for the World Cup via a blatant handball is unlikely to do much for the popularity of French coach Raymond Domenech, either at home or abroad (his Wikipedia page is currently saying some very nasty things about him, but it will doubtless be put back to its less offensive version soon).
The 57-year-old former defender, whose name is booed at every match, has never made any effort to make himself popular, but here are 10 reasons (or nearly 10) why football fans may want to reconsider their view:
1. He has never won anything as a coach, a characteristic shared by most soccer fans, which makes him less intimidating than, say, Giovanni Trapattoni.
2. He was a workaholic defender with limited skills in his playing days, with makes a nice change in a country full of retired magicians.
3. He is more successful as a coach than the great Michel Platini, under the guidance of whom France failed to win a single match at Euro 92.
4. He convinced Zinedine Zidane, Lilian Thuram and Claude Makelele to come out of retirement and guide France all the way to the 2006 World Cup final.
5. He made Yoann Gourcuff his playmaker when others doubted he even had a place in the starting line-up.
6. He made sure Loic Remy, Andre-Pierre Gignac and Bafetimbi Gomis became famous outside their regions.
7. He is an incurable romantic, asking his partner to marry him rather than apologising to the fans after France lost a World Cup final largely because of Zidane’s infamous headbutt.
8. He is not obsessed with television, being the only Frenchman not to have watched the replay of Wednesday’s controversial goal.
10. OK, that’s only nine. Anyone care to nominate a 10th?
PHOTO: France team coach Raymond Domenech (C) celebrates their win against Ireland in their World Cup qualifying playoff return leg match at the Stade de France stadium in Saint Denis near Paris November 18, 2009. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier