Inconsolable, the assistant to the former coach of the France team says his immense sadness after the disappearance of the one with whom he shared a life of football and complicity.
"Today I lose more than a friend … I lose my friend and my master. We have spent so many years together. I owe him so much as a colleague and as a man … I may have prepared myself, since I had his wife on the phone three days ago and we knew it was not going well, I take today his departure in full face. "
Circle of intimates
The voice on the other end is blocked. Henri Emile (77) takes a breath and holds the sobs that choke him as best he can. The former assistant to Michel Hidalgo at the head of the French team (1980 to 1984) was a close friend. Over the years and his collaborations with all of the Blues' selectors until 2012 (from Platini to Laurent Blanc, with the exception of Domenech), he had joined the intimate circle of Hidalgo. For him, the faithful Henri Emile had organized last February a big rally around the former coach of "Club France" in Marseille, on February 12.
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"Today, I am happy to have been able to live this last moment around him with a dozen European Champions 1984, says Henri Emile. There were Max Bossis, Marius Trésor, Patrick Battiston, Alain Giresse, Manuel Amoros, Bernard Genghini and others who came from all over France to greet him at his home. He was already very tired, but he had very nice words for everyone when he spoke to them. He told them that they were very high quality men. Humanly, Michel is someone exceptional. "
"Michel Hidalgo was a trigger for French football on the international scene (…) He was the coach who launched the euphoric period of French football …"
The story of friendship between Hidalgo and Henri Emile dates from the early 1970s, when the latter joined the French Football Federation as regional technical advisor to the Academy of Limoges (1972). “I became coach of the Espoirs and Michel Hidalgo, who was at the head of the A in 1976, united the two groups during the preparations for international matches. Beyond our professional affinities and the adventures that were beginning, we started to go on vacation together with our families… ”
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Sitting alongside Michel Hidalgo on the bench, Henri Emile remembers intense moments of emotion experienced at the highest level: “I have the image of Michel on the evening of the qualification for the World Cup in Argentina, after France-Bulgaria from 1977 to the Parc des Princes. We were so happy. Michel Hidalgo was a trigger for French football on the international scene. After the 1978 World Cup in Argentina and then the 82 World Cup in Spain, there was the title of 1984 European Champion in Paris. He was the coach who launched the euphoric period of French football… ”
Recruited by Bernard Tapie as general manager of Olympique de Marseille, Michel Hidalgo had proposed to his friend to follow him on the adventure. "Michel has often told me that he regrets having left the French Football Federation and not having lived the 1986 World Cup in Mexico with the Platini generation. If Jean Fournet-Fayard, who was president, had offered him a job in communication – as we say today – he would have been excellent in a role that did not quite exist (in the company of Philippe Tournon and Alain Lopez, editor's note). "
Inconsolable, Henri Emile mourns the one whose shared complicity he will never forget beyond the football fields. This friendship that linked them for nearly fifty years, with moments of rare exchange, in the south of France, when the mistral blew a tender warm summer wind in the plane trees, to the sound of the cicadas …
“Michel was a man who always spoke from his heart. He knew the families of all of his players, always had a word for the wife and children. He was exceptionally warm. I lose a lot more than a friend. After Henri (Michel )’s death, it’s Michel’s turn to leave. It's very difficult…"