“I might have spent my entire life at AS Monaco” / France / SOFOOT.com

Claude Puel, with out a membership since leaving Saint-Étienne in December 2021, took the time to finish the writing of his autobiography Free, 50 years in soccer (Photo voltaic Editions). The previous coach of Monaco, Lille, Lyon, Good, Southampton and Leicester, who was additionally the participant of a single membership, sweeps away these 5 a long time dedicated to his ardour.

At what level in your life did you resolve to jot down your autobiography, and above all to not ask for any exterior assist?
I had been supplied a number of instances to jot down it, however for me it was nonetheless too early. I began writing after I left Southampton, then Leicester and eventually Saint-Étienne. I had time, I had to do a little analysis. And I needed to jot down this ebook with my phrases, my emotions, and never reside my very own experiences by transposition. My intention was to make a ebook on soccer, fluid and accessible, to present my imaginative and prescient of this ardour. A ebook that may communicate to coaches, gamers, supporters, the place I inform my experiences within the totally different golf equipment of my life, the initiatives that I accompanied, those who I helped to arrange.

“For me, soccer, after I began taking part in it, was above all synonymous with the outside, freedom, house to channel my vitality. »

You aren’t on the lookout for settling scores, even for those who dwell just a little extra on the sophisticated relationships you might have maintained, specifically with Jean-Michel Aulas and Bernard Lacombe in Lyon, or Stéphane Ruffier in Saint-Étienne.
That was not the aim. I say issues as I skilled them, as I felt them. Generally my phrases can maybe sting, however I did not need to make a buzz. I actually needed to speak about soccer, a sport that, paradoxically, did not curiosity me that a lot after I was younger. I used to be born in Castres, a land of rugby. My father was probably not excited about soccer, my brother just a little extra. I didn’t observe the French championship, simply Saint-Étienne within the European Cup, even when, on the time, only a few matches had been broadcast. For me, soccer, after I began taking part in it, was above all synonymous with the outside, freedom, house to channel my vitality. Once I was at school, I tended to look exterior. And even after I began to have a superb stage in younger folks, that I used to be chosen in group of France cadets, one among my professors was even shocked to be taught it. I used to be not very exuberant, quite the opposite.

You’ll nonetheless have to clarify to us how a person who appears so laid again was in a position to rework himself on the pitch into a tricky footballer, not afraid of a lot?
(Laughs.) It’s true that in life, I’m calm, quiet. And that on a area, I used to be bloody. I used to be at all times in competitors, even in coaching, for small video games. Once I misplaced, which I discovered tough to bear, I appeared ahead to the subsequent day to take my revenge. I had quite a lot of vitality in me. Once I was at school, I could not specific it. So I discovered with soccer a superb alternative to take action. However after I was a participant, I needed to admit that not everybody might have the identical mentality as me. And much more while you change into a coach, the place you need to convey totally different folks collectively.

Having by no means been referred to as as much as the France group, is {that a} remorse?
I’d have appreciated to style it, if solely as soon as, however I’ve no regrets. Initially of my profession, I used to be versatile, I performed central defender, aspect… I reached maturity round 27 or 28, I had one among my greatest seasons at 32… The practice occurred, it actually would not matter, I made up for it with a really busy profession…

You spent your whole profession as a participant in Monaco, you began your teaching profession there, you reside on the heights of the Principality… May you might have stayed endlessly at ASM, occupying different positions there? , as a sports activities director or supervisor for instance?
Sure, I believe I might have spent my entire life in Monaco. I by no means needed to go away ASM after I performed there, regardless that I had had gives. However I used to be in an excellent membership, which performed on the high of the desk, I rubbed shoulders with nice gamers like Glenn Hoddle, Jürgen Klinsmann specifically. I performed within the Champions League, gained titles, and it was the membership that gave me the chance to show to a training profession, after having been a bodily coach then coach of the reserve group. We gained the title of champion of France in 2000… Why go away such a membership, a spot the place we felt superb with my household?

In your profession, you might have chosen golf equipment the place there weren’t the identical means as in Monaco. We consider Lille (2002-2008), then Good (2012-2016). Trying again, it was much more complicated.
And we are able to add Southampton, England (2016-2017)… Sure, as you say, it was a headache. I’m not a careerist. What motivated me, after I agreed to affix these golf equipment, specifically Good and Lille, was to take part within the building of a challenge. Getting out of my consolation zone, in a means. In these two golf equipment, there have been no means, no robust sufficient buildings. It was very motivating to participate on this. In Lille, we had the 19e Ligue 1 funds, we couldn’t recruit, solely usher in free or loaned gamers. Initially, I participated in conferences, to raised perceive the functioning of the membership. It was tedious at instances, however very rewarding. We labored lots, and we managed to play the Champions League, to face and beat AC Milan and Manchester United. If you accomplish this, remembering the scenario while you arrived, it’s a satisfaction. In Good too, we began from afar, the membership discovered Europe. In Southampton, after I had a primary interview with the leaders, I used to be fairly essential, fairly powerful. I did not suppose they might select me, by the way in which. I did not need to go someplace to work in a setting that did not swimsuit me. I might have accepted their proposal, with out asking something, however it was stronger than me: I needed to be trustworthy with them!

In Leicester, from October 2017 to February 2019, too, you might have shaken up sure habits.
The membership, in accordance with my evaluation, needed to change the workforce in depth to produce other ambitions. He lived an excessive amount of within the reminiscence of the title obtained in 2016. I felt that just a few gamers must be stored, together with Schmeichel and Vardy. And I believe I used to be proper. We could not compete with the large groups, however we did some good issues. However the unintended loss of life of President Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, a person I appreciated, modified issues. His son, who succeeded him, didn’t have the identical endurance as his father.

“There have been insult tags on the partitions of the constructing the place I lived, I used to be threatened, my household too. It was laborious, merciless. We solely speak about soccer. It was an excessive amount of. »

Your time in Lyon (2008-2011) ended notably badly. What reminiscence do you retain?
Once I signed in 2008, I had the impression that issues needed to be modified in the way in which the membership operates, to make it extra fluid, to work lots, to regenerate the group. The primary season, the gamers had been nearly obsessive about the Champions League, a lot much less with the L1. I held mobilizing speeches, and we completed third. Then Karim Benzema, Fred and Juninho left, we reached the semi-finals of the C1 towards Bayern Munich, completed second within the league. However the 2010-2011 season was very tough. I had recovered French internationals traumatized by what that they had skilled in Knysna, through the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Jérémy Toulalan needed to finish his profession. The outcomes that adopted weren’t superb, we even clocked in on the 17e place within the rating. President Aulas, with whom all the pieces had gone effectively till then, launched me publicly. The supporters demanded my resignation, even going as far as to hold their banners on sure buildings and bridges within the metropolis. There have been insult tags on the partitions of the constructing the place I lived, I used to be threatened, my household too. It was laborious, merciless. We solely speak about soccer. It was an excessive amount of. We managed to qualify for the Champions League regardless of all the pieces, and once they say that my time at OL was a failure, I do not agree.

There was additionally Saint-Étienne, the place you had been very concerned within the operating of the membership. With hindsight, would not it have been higher, generally, to do as many coaches do and focus solely in your group?
Possibly sure. In Saint-Étienne, I signed in October 2019, when the group was second to final. When Jean-Louis Gasset left the membership, in June of the identical yr, I used to be approached, however I felt the getting old workforce, not essentially outfitted to play the Europa League. I had not adopted up on these first contacts. I lastly accepted 5 months later. I shortly understood that the scenario was tough from an financial standpoint. To reply your query, I in all probability ought to have generally taken extra distance, centered on the job of teaching the skilled group. As a result of it’s essentially time-consuming to work on coaching, the event of buildings, the financial elements, briefly, the event of a challenge. However I do not remorse it, I needed to be in tune with myself and my values, to take up challenges. What I can guarantee you is that I do not suppose I’d do it once more…

“I like when the gamers shock me, when they’re inventive. As an educator, growing the technical qualities of a participant, getting him to go increased, to carry out, is thrilling. »

You dedicate a number of pages of your ebook to eager about the sport, emphasizing your want to have your groups follow high quality soccer.
Sure. I at all times favored, after I grew to become a coach, a elegant, inventive recreation. In all probability as a result of in Monaco, I performed with very technical footballers, together with Glenn Hoddle, who was an excellent footballer. In Lille or Good, for instance, there was a sure behavior of direct soccer. It is not what I needed. Me, I like when the gamers shock me, that they present themselves inventive. As an educator, growing the technical qualities of a participant, getting him to go increased, to carry out, is thrilling. That is why I cherished going to see the youth groups play. Once I signal for a membership, I’ve a recreation plan, along with the opposite elements that we’ve got talked about. It’s a entire. For this reason, in my opinion, it’s important to be related to recruitment as a coach. If you wish to arrange a mode of play, you need to have the gamers to do it.

How do you think about your future?
I had requests. Nationwide choices, however not in Europe. And I need to keep in Europe. I am 61, I simply need to have enjoyable. I can’t go to a membership the place there’s a enormous building web site. Within the meantime, I watch matches, I am going to the Louis-II stadium every so often, I play sports activities, I watch them on TV, I take pleasure in my household, my pals, I am doing very effectively.

You refused a proposal from FC Porto throughout your keep in Lille. Every part even appeared tied up. Would your profession have been totally different for those who had accepted it?
There are probabilities. FC Porto is a good European membership. If I had signed there and achieved outcomes, it might in all probability have opened doorways for me in different large golf equipment on the continent. However I could not go away Lille, drop this membership, the gamers with whom we had been constructing nice issues. And as I’ve at all times assumed my selections, I remorse nothing.

Interview by Alexis Billebault

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