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Laurent Robert Blanc (born 19 November 1965 in Alèsmarker) is a Frenchmarker football manager and former defender, who scored the first golden goal in World Cup history. He was known as a surprisingly high-scoring defender, although in his early career he often operated as a midfielder. He was part of the French national team that successively won the World Cup and the European Championship.

He is the current manager of FC Girondins de Bordeaux, whom he led to the Ligue 1 title in 2009.

Club career

Early years

Laurent Blanc's career started in Montpellier, where he signed his first professional contract in 1983. A very technical player, he played as an offensive midfielder and helped Montpellier get promoted to Division 1 in 1987. Only a few years later did he settle as a defender following the advice from Michel Mézy, a position in which his physical stature (1.92 m, 82 kg) and his temper would prove invaluable. His game being perfectly fitted for the French league, he managed to score at least 12 goals (a remarkable tally for a defender) in every season at Montpellier, for the most part penalties and headers. He also won the Coupe de France in 1990, scoring a goal in the final.

Domestic success

In 1991, Blanc tried a first experience abroad when he left Montpellier for Napoli in the Italian Serie A. Despite a decent season during which he managed to score six goals, he felt like he could not fully express his potential and returned to France after just one year, to Nîmes and then Saint Etienne where again he not only imposed himself as one of the best defenders in the league but also scored goals (13 in his last season with Saint-Etienne). However, Saint-Etienne were struggling at the time and got almost relegated, only staying up because Marseille were not allowed to return to Division 1 because of their financial difficulties.

Guy Roux, impressed by Blanc and looking for a replacement for Dutch international Frank Verlaat, convinced him to join Auxerre in 1995. Despite injuring himself early in the season, Blanc came back strongly and played a great part in Auxerre's double that year.

FC Barcelona

Laurent Blanc's performances on the pitch, emphasized by Auxerre's success, drew the attention of several big European clubs. He finally signed for FC Barcelona. That second abroad experience turned out not to be as successful as he could have hoped. Johan Cruyff, who had wanted Blanc and persuaded him to sign for Barça, was sacked on the very day Blanc agreed to join the club. Blanc won the Supercopa de España against Atlético Madrid but injured himself quickly afterwards. He came back and played regularly but was sent off during the Cup Winners' Cup quarter-final against AIK then injured himself again against Extremadura, which forced him to miss the Clásico and the Cup Winners' Cup final against Paris SG. After this disappointing season and only one year away from the World Cup, he decided to leave.

The "President"

Rolland Courbis managed to convince Blanc to join Marseille, which proved beneficial for both Marseille and Blanc. Blanc quickly became a leader in a Marseille side desperately lacking confidence, and helped them reach an honourable fourth place for his first season, scoring 11 goals and earning the nickname Le Président (the President) in the process. The season following the World Cup was both successful and frustrating for Blanc and Marseille, as they finished runners-up in the championship, only one point shy of Bordeaux, and reached the UEFA Cup final, only to lose 3–0 to Parma, with Hernán Crespo intercepting Blanc's back pass to Porato to score the opener.

He then left Marseille for Inter Milan, where he enjoyed some success in defence, even winning the Pirata d'oro (Internazionale Player of the Year) in 2000.

Manchester United

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson had attempted to lure Blanc several times since 1996 and finally succeeded in 2001. Despite his age of 35 years, Blanc was brought in to replace the departing Jaap Stam. He was criticised for poor performances in the early months of his stay at Old Traffordmarker. This was compounded when United suffered their first five losses of the season to Bolton, Liverpool, Arsenal, Newcastle and Chelsea (The first letters of each team spelling B-L-A-N-C). He retired two years later, having helped his club to the 2002-03 Premier League crown. He scored four goals during his time at Manchester United. One of these came in the league against Tottenham Hotspur, and the other three all came in the Champions League in games against Boavista (both home and away) and another against Olympiakos.

International career

Laurent Blanc won the 1988 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship, beating Greece in the final. On February 7 1989, he made his debut for the national team against Ireland.

France, then in reconstruction after the retirement of numerous key players, did not manage to qualify for the 1990 World Cup. Shortly after that, they started an impressive 19-game unbeaten streak, including eight wins out of eight in Euro 1992 qualifying, making them one of the favorites to win the competition. They would, however, get knocked out in the pool stage by eventual winners Denmark.

After France inexplicably failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup, Laurent Blanc was heavily criticised, as well the rest of the team, and he subsequently decided to retire from international football. Aimé Jacquet, after taking over the managerial position of the national team, made it one of his priorities to convince Blanc to change his mind. Blanc then became one of the key players of this new French squad which reached the semi-finals of the Euro 96, only to lose to Czech Republic in a penalty shoot-out.

That same team then entered the 1998 World Cup, which was held on home soil. Blanc was exemplary during the competition and, on June 28 1998, he scored against Paraguay in the Round of 16 the first ever golden goal in World Cup history. He would, however, miss the final after being sent off in the semi-final against Croatia for elbowing Slaven Bilić, although replays showed that Bilić had clearly feigned the injury. The Croatian was heavily criticised afterwards.

Blanc was also part of the team that won the Euro 2000 during which, despite having been criticised for his age and lack of speed during the qualifications, he proved reliable in defence and even scored a goal against Denmark in the group stage.

He announced his retirement from international football after the Euro, following the example of his captain Didier Deschamps.

Blanc was also well-known for kissing good friend and goalkeeper Fabien Barthez's head before the start of every match, supposedly for good luck (the two did repeat this ritual when they played together for Manchester United, only for Champions League matches). Overall, he recorded 97 caps and scored 16 goals.

In 2006, the readers of France Football Magazine voted him the fourth best French player of all time behind Michel Platini, Zinedine Zidane and Raymond Kopa.

Career as a manager

On June 8, 2007, Blanc was named the new manager of FC Girondins de Bordeaux, replacing Brazilian Ricardo. For his first season on the bench, he led Bordeaux to a very good second place in the league and won the Manager of the Year award. His second season was extremely successful, as Bordeaux won the final eleven games of the season, setting a new French record for consecutive wins, and clinched the 2008–09 Ligue 1 championship title, three points clear of Marseille, having already won the Coupe de la Ligue that year. Blanc was again nominated for Manager of the Year but lost to Marseille's Eric Gerets.

Honours

As a player



Individual



As a manager



Statistics

Player



International goals



Managerial stats

Last updated 2 June 2009



References

  1. http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/blancs-spell-curses-united-618755.html
  2. http://soccernet.espn.go.com/columns/story?id=254403&root=england&cc=5739
  3. A CAMBIASSO IL "PIRATA D'ORO" - Inter.com


External links



1983-84 Montpellier Division 2 15 0 -
1984-85 32 5 -
1985-86 29 6 -
1986-87 34 18 -
1987-88 Division 1 24 6 -
1988-89 35 15 2 0
1989-90 36 12 -
1990-91 38 14 6 1

1991-92 Napoli Serie A 31 6 -

1992-93 Nîmes Olympique Division 1 29 1 -
1993-94 Saint-Étienne Division 1 33 5 -
1994-95 37 13 -
1995-96 Auxerre Division 1 23 2 1 0

1996-97 FC Barcelona La Liga 28 1 5 0

1997-98 Olympique Marseille Division 1 31 11 -
1998-99 32 2 10 1

1999-00 Internazionale Milano Serie A 34 3 -
2000-01 33 3 9 0

2001-02 Manchester United Premier League 29 1 2 0 0 0 15 2 46 3
2002-03 19 0 1 0 0 0 9 1 29 1
428||110||||||||||19||1||||
98||12||||||||||9||0||||
28||1||||||||||5||0||||
48||1||3||0||0||0||24||3||75||4
602||124||||||||57||4||||
# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 18 November 1989 Stadium Municipalmarker, Toulousemarker, Francemarker 2 – 0 2 – 0 1990 World Cup Qualification
2 21 January 1990 Kazma SC Stadiummarker, Kuwait Citymarker, Kuwaitmarker 0 – 1 0 – 1 Friendly
3 20 February 1991 Parc des Princesmarker, Parismarker, Francemarker 3 – 1 3 – 1 Euro '92 Qualification
4 14 August 1991 Stadion Miejskimarker, Poznańmarker, Polandmarker 1 – 4 1 – 5 Friendly
5 17 February 1993 Ramat Gan Stadiummarker, Ramat Ganmarker, Israelmarker 0 – 2 0 – 4 1994 World Cup Qualification
6 17 February 1993 Ramat Gan Stadiummarker, Ramat Ganmarker, Israelmarker 0 – 3 0 – 4 1994 World Cup Qualification
7 8 September 1993 Ratina Stadionmarker, Tamperemarker, Finlandmarker 0 – 1 0 – 2 1994 World Cup Qualification
8 26 April 1995 Stade de la Beaujoiremarker, Nantesmarker, Francemarker 3 – 0 4 – 0 Euro '96 Qualification
9 1 June 1996 Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadionmarker, Stuttgartmarker, Germanymarker 0 – 1 0 – 1 Friendly
10 18 June 1996 St James' Parkmarker, Newcastlemarker, Englandmarker 1 – 0 3 – 1 Euro '96 Group Stage
11 9 October 1996 Parc des Princesmarker, Parismarker, Francemarker 1 – 0 4 – 0 Friendly
12 25 February 1998 Stade Vélodromemarker, Marseillemarker, Francemarker 1 – 1 3 – 3 Friendly
13 29 May 1998 Stade Mohamed Vmarker, Casablancamarker, Moroccomarker 1 – 1 2 – 2 Hassan II Trophy
14 28 June 1998 Stade Félix-Bollaertmarker, Lensmarker, Francemarker 1 – 0 1 – 0 1998 World Cup Round of 16
15 26 April 2000 Stade de Francemarker, Saint-Denis, Francemarker 2 – 2 3 – 2 Friendly
16 11 June 2000 Jan Breydel Stadiummarker, Brugesmarker, Belgiummarker 1 – 0 3 – 0 Euro 2000 Group Stage
Nat
Team
From
To
Record
G W L D Win % GF GA +/-
Bordeaux
2007
77 47 17 13 % 133 72 +61
Total Career
77 47 17 13 % 133 72 +61

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