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Olympique Lyonnais (commonly referred to as Olympique Lyon, Lyon, or simply OL, by English speakers and international press) is a Frenchmarker football club based in Lyonmarker. They play in France's highest football division, Ligue 1.

The club was formed as Lyon Olympique Universitaire in 1899, according to many supporters and sport historians, but was nationally established as a club in 1950. Their most successful period has been the 21st century. The club won their first ever Ligue 1 championship in 2002, starting a national record-breaking streak of seven successive titles. Lyon have also won a record seven Trophée des Champions, four Coupe de France titles, and three Ligue 2 Championships. They have appeared in the UEFA Champions League eleven times, but have not progressed further than the quarter-finals.

Olympique Lyonnais play their home matches at the 41,044-seat Stade de Gerlandmarker in Lyonmarker. In 2013, they plan to move into their new stadia, tentatively named OL Landmarker, in Décines-Charpieumarker, a suburb of Lyon. The club's home colours are white, red and blue. Lyon were a member of the G14 group of leading European football clubs and are founder members of its successor, the European Club Association. The chairman of Lyon is Jean-Michel Aulas and club is managed by Claude Puel.

Olympique Lyonnais is one of the popular football clubs in Francemarker. About 11% of the country's population support the club. Lyon share this number with Paris Saint-Germain and only trail Olympique de Marseille. Lyon do, however, hold the honor of being the richest club in the country having generated an annual revenue stream of 155.7 million for the 2007–08 season, according to accountants Deloitte.

Olympique Lyonnais also has a successful women's football team having won their league a record seven times, the last being the 2008–09 season. The women's team has also won three Challenge de France (women's version of the Coupe de France) titles.

The club's nickname, Les Gones, means "The Kids" in Lyon's regional dialect of Arpitan language.

History

Beginnings

Olympique Lyonnais was, initially, formed under the multisports club Lyon Olympique Universitaire, who was originally formed in 1896 as Racing Club de Lyon. In 1899, Lyon Olympique formed a football section. In the early years of the club, the football section was often overshadowed by local rivals FC Lyon, who won the French championship in the both the 1908 and 1909 seasons. Both LOU and FC Lyon also shared rivalries with local clubs CS Terreaux and AS Lyonnaise. In 1910, Lyon Olympique won the French Championship eclipsing their rivals. By 1917, the city of Lyon was divided with its citizens supporting only one of the four clubs.

By 1945, Lyon Olympique were managed by Félix Louot, who provided the leadership, determination, and faith in order to create professional football in the city of Lyon. His principles helped the club win the southern pool of the final wartime championship by two points over Bordeaux. In the national final, which pitted them against Rouen, Lyon Olympique lost the match 0–4. These successes propelled the club to the first division, but also led to problems regarding the cohabitation of amateurs and professionals within Lyon Olympique Universitaire. Due to numerous disagreements, Louot and his entourage began to contemplate forming their own club.

On 3 August 1950, Louot's plan came to fruition when Olympique Lyonnais was officially founded by Dr. Albert Trillat and numerous others. Due to the split, Lyon moved into the Stade de Gerlandmarker, a stadium designed by local architect Tony Garnier. The club's first manager was Oscar Heisserer and on 26 August, played its first official match defeating CA Paris-Charenton 3–0 in front of 3,000 supporters. In 1951, the club was crowned champions of the second division, thus moving up to the first division. Lyon were relegated back to the second division after just one season, despite Heisserer coming out of retirement as a player. Lyon spent the next two seasons in Division 2 building for the future by signing players such as Åke Hjalmarsson and Erik Kuld Jensen. Eventually, during the 1953–1954 season, the club achieved promotion back to the first division under the leadership of Heisserer, who departed the club after a four-year stint as manager. He was replaced by Julien Darui, who only managed the club in the first division for six months, before leaving his post. Lucien Troupel replaced him.

Troupel joined the club midway through the season, where Lyon ultimately finished in 12th position. Despite the inconsistent start, Troupel developed a squad full of talent, which included savvy veterans like Swiss international Jacques Fatton and Antoine Dalla Cieca, and young emerging talent in Jean Djorkaeff, Marcel Le Borgne, and Bernard Gardon. The team responded the following season finishing in the top half of the table and also reaching the semi-finals of the Coupe de France. Over the next three years (1956–1959), Lyon finished mid-table. In 1959, Troupel was replaced as manager by Gaby Robert. The arrival of a new manager included the arrival of an influx of new players with the Argentinemarker Nestor Combin, Cameroonianmarker striker Eugène N'Jo Léa, and Frenchman Jules Sbroglia being the biggest signings. Despite the signings, Lyon still struggled finishing in 16th position for the 1959–60 season.

Success in 60s and 70s

Olympique Lyonnais enjoyed limited success in the 60s, partly due to the play of strike force Fleury Di Nallo, known as The Little Prince of Gerland and arguably Lyon's greatest player ever, and the Argentinemarker Nestor Combin. Under the guidance of manager Lucien Jasseron, the club achieved their highest first division finish, at the time, finishing in 5th place. The successful season culminated into the club reaching the 1963 edition of the Coupe de France final, where they faced Monaco. Lyon secured a 0–0 draw in the first match, but lost the replay 0–2. The following season, the club captured their first-ever Coupe de France title defeating Bordeaux 2–0. The club also finished in 4th position in the league. The 1964–65 season saw the departure of Combin to Italianmarker club Juventus. Due to this, the team suffered from his absence, finishing in a respectable 6th position in the league, but suffering elimination in the early rounds of both the Coupe de France and the UEFA Cup Winner's Cup. The 1965–66 season saw Lyon finish in 16th position, their worst finish since the 1960–61 season. The disappointing finish ultimately led to the departure of Jasseron, but his stint at the club is remembered as being largely positive by supporters and he is known for being the first Lyon manager to win the Coupe de France.

Jasseron was replaced by Louis Hon, a former player of Real Madrid and a known tactician in the Spanish league. Along with the departure of Jasseron, Lyon also lost several prominent players, including Marcel Aubour, Jean Djorkaeff, Stéphane Bruey, and Michel Margottin. The loss of such talented players resulted in the team finishing in 15th position for the 1966–67 season. However, on a positive note, the club won their second Coupe de France title, defeating Sochaux 3–1. The following season, Hon and the team again struggled finishing for the second straight season, finishing in the bottom half of the league. The club did reach the quarterfinals of that year's UEFA Cup Winner's Cup, losing to German side Hamburg. The struggles domestically led to the firing of Hon, and he was replaced by former Lyon legend Aimé Mignot.

Mignot first season was mostly timid as the club finished a modest 9th in the league and were eliminated in the Round of 16 in the Coupe de France. This inconsistent season was primarily due to Di Nallo breaking his leg in just the fourth match of the season. Despite a healthy Di Nallo returning for the 1969–70 season, Lyon still suffered, finishing 15th.

The 1970s saw the arrival of Serbianmarker defender Ljubomir Mihajlović, commonly called Loubo in France, and also a changing of the guard with youth product Bernard Lacombe taking over as primary goalscorer from Di Nallo, who was now an aging veteran that left the team following the 1974–75 season. The new decade also saw the emergence of the Moroccanmarker-born French midfielder Serge Chiesa, who formed a stellar partnership with Lacombe. The 1972–73 season saw Lyon win their third Coupe de France title, defeating Nantes 2–1 with Lacombe ultimately scoring the game-winning goal. The following two seasons over, Lyon finished 3rd with Lacombe and Chiesa leading the way. The next season, despite getting off to a strong start in the league, Lyon struggled fighting relegation for most of the season. Due to this, halfway through the season, Mignot resigned and made way for Aimé Jacquet, who served in a player-coach role for the rest of the season. The coaching change successfully changed the club's focus and Lyon eventually finished in 16th position. Jacquet also led the club to the Coupe de France final where they lost to Marseille 0–2.

Despite early positives in Jacquet's run as manager, his four-year run (1976–1980) was uneventful with the club fighting relegation in two seasons including barely surviving in Jacquet's final season. During Jacquet's tenure, Lyon changed presidents and also lost Bernard Lacombe to rivals Saint-Étienne. Midway through the 1979–80 season, Jacquet announced that he was departing the club at the end of the season. He was replaced by Jean-Pierre Destrumelle who hired former Lyon man Fleury Di Nallo as his assistant.

Destrumelle spent only one year at the club, but brought in several notable players such as Jean Tigana, Alain Moizan, Simo Nikolić, and Jean-Marc Furlan. The club finished in the top half of the table and also played in front of a record crowd for the Stade Gerland with 48,852 spectators on hand for the visit of Saint-Étienne, a figure that would remain a French record for ten years. The next six years (1981–1987), the team played under three different managers, Vlatko Kovačević, Robert Herbin, and Robert Nouzaret, and also were operated by numerous presidents and chairmen. By 1987, the club were playing in the second division.

Budding success

In June 1987, Rhônemarker businessman Jean-Michel Aulas took control of the club and invested in the club with the objective of turning Lyon into an established Ligue 1 side. His ambitious plan, titled OL – Europe, was designed to develop the club on the European level and back into the first division within a time-frame of no more than four years.

Aulas' first season (1987–1988) in charge was a success as the club finished a respectable 2nd in Groupe B of the second division only faltering in the promotion play-offs. Three different managers served under Aulas during the season. Nouzaret, who started the season departed midway and he was replaced by Denis Papas who only lasted a few months. Former Lyon player Marcel Le Borgne took over and managed until the end of the season.


The following season, Aulas brought in 36-year old Raymond Domenech, who was born in Lyon and played for the club during the 1970s. Domenech had previously performed well in a player-coach role as manager of Alsatianmarker club FC Mulhouse. Aulas also brought back Bernard Lacombe, who, now retired, took the position of sporting director. The aspiring chairman gave both Lacombe and Domenech carte blanche to recruit whomever player they saw fit to help the team reach the first division. Domenech, in an effort to increase competition in the squad, brought in several experienced players such as the Congolesemarker striker Eugène Kabongo and François Lemasson, but also focused on the club's youth teaming the veterans with the likes of Bruno N'Gotty and Pascal Fugier. Led by 21 goals from Kabongo, the strategy and results were immediate with the club achieving promotion to Ligue 1 after a scoreless draw against Olympique Alès. Lyon were crowned champions of Ligue 2 for the third time.

Olympique Lyonnais's first top-flight season under Raymond Domenech saw them finish eighth in the league, safe from relegation, despite struggling early on during the season. In Domenech's second season in the first division, he completed Aulas' plan of reaching Europe finishing in 5th following a victory over Bordeaux at a sold-out Gerland on the last day of the season. Initially, the finish did not insert Lyon into the UEFA Cup, however, following Monaco's victory in the 1991 edition of the Coupe de France, a spot opened and allowed Lyon progression. The next season under Domenech was severely underachieving. The club lost in the first round of both the UEFA Cup and Coupe de France losing to Turkish club Trabzonspor (4–8 on aggregate) and Istres, respectively. The club also finished 16th in the league, which is, as of today, still the worst league finish of the Aulas-era. Following the 1992–93 Ligue 1 season, where Lyon again finished in the bottom half of the table, Domenech resigned his position and agreed to manage the French U21 team.
Aulas' first choice replacement was former French international and Lyon midfielder Jean Tigana. Tigana had been a part of the celebrated Magic Diamond, along with Michel Platini, Luis Fernández and Alain Giresse. Tigana's arrival saw the club sign world-class players which included three-time African Footballer of the Year Abédi Pelé, who ultimately disappointed, Manuel Amoros, and Pascal Olmeta. All three players had been a part of the Olympique de Marseille dynasty, which had included five straight Ligue 1 titles from 1989 to 1993 and a UEFA Champions League victory. In the club's first season under Tigana, they finished 8th, just short of European qualification. The 1994–95 saw the club become a legitimate title contender. Under the leadership of N'Gotty and influential play of youngsters Florian Maurice and Franck Gava, Lyon finished in an impressive 2nd place, ten points behind champions Nantes. The finish meant Lyon have qualified for their second UEFA Cup appearance. The new season also debut a new competition, the Coupe de la Ligue. In the inaugural edition of the competition, Lyon suffered elimination in the Round of 16 losing to the eventual winners of the tournament, Paris Saint-Germain. Tigana departed the club after the successful season leaving for Monaco, however, not without leaving an indelible mark on the supporters of the club. His departure also saw others leave. Veteran defenders N'Gotty left for Parismarker and Amoros returned to Marseille. Aulas did keep hold of his young striker tandem Maurice and Gava.

For the 1995–96 season, Guy Stéphan took charged of the club. Stéphan struggled early on losing Gava for the entire season due to an injury. Due to this, the new manager was forced to rely on Maurice and inexperienced youngsters like Ludovic Giuly and Cédric Bardon. Maurice responded scoring 18 goals, however, the next closest player in that category was Giuly with only 4. The inexperience showed on the field as Lyon finished in 11th position in the league, lost in the second round of the UEFA Cup to Englishmarker club Nottingham Forest (1–0 on aggregate), and suffered elimination in the early stages of the Coupe de France. Despite the unimpressive finishes, Lyon still had a chance to qualify directly to the UEFA Cup, due to reaching the 1996 final of the Coupe de la Ligue. The faced Metz and lost on penalties 4–5. The new season saw the arrival of striker Alain Caveglia, as well as veteran midfielder Christophe Cocard. However, Stéphan again suffered bad luck losing his star striker Maurice for six months after the player ruptured his Achilles tendon following his return from the 1996 Summer Olympics. The lost weakened the team completely and Stéphan was fired following the club's embarrassing defeat to Auxerre, in which Lyon conceded seven goals. He was promptly replaced by sporting director Bernard Lacombe.

Lacombe quickly changed the environment and style of the team. Though the club endured elimination from both cup competitions early on, they rebounded in the league finishing mid-table in 8th, which meant a berth in the UEFA Intertoto Cup. The season also saw the emergence of Giuly who scored 16 goals, second on the team behind Caveglia (19). Lacombe's first full season in charge was subdued with the club struggling at home, but dominating on the road. The club eventually finished in 6th place, moving above Auxerre on the final day of the season for a guaranteed spot in the UEFA Cup. The club also reached the semi-finals of the Coupe de France. It was the club's best finish in the competition since 1976. In Europe, the club won the Intertoto Cup reaching the second round of the UEFA Cup where they faced the task of defeating Italianmarker outfit Inter Milan who had the likes of Ronaldo and Giuseppe Bergomi in its arsenal. Despite upsetting Inter at the San Siromarker 2–1, Lyon's home form continue to sulk losing in the return leg 1–3 eliminating Lyon from the tournament. Inter later went on to win the tournament.

The 1998–99 season saw Lyon suffer many highs, but also heartbreaking lows. With the arrival of new players Vikash Dhorasoo and Marco Grassi, Lyon got off to a great start in the league thrashing Toulouse 6–1 and defeating title contenders Marseille and Bordeaux both by a score of 2–1. However, on 3 February 1999, the club received damaging news when it was discovered that Luc Borrelli, one of the team’s goalkeepers, was tragically killed in a car accident. Borelli had been a popular figure inside the club and the players were hit hard by the news. Borelli's number 16 shirt was later retired by the club. Despite the tragic news, the players pull together performing admirably in the league finishing in 3rd, which meant the club had qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the first time. The club suffered early elimination in the Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue, but reached the quarterfinals of the UEFA Cup losing to another Italian side in Bologna (0–5 on aggregate).

Rise to prominence

At the start of the new millennium, Olympique Lyonnais began to achieve unlimited success in French football. Following the 1998–99 season, Aulas made a big gamble signing the Brazilianmarker international Sonny Anderson from Spanishmarker giants Barcelona for a then-French record fee of €17 million. Sonny, who was labeled a flop while playing for the Catalanmarker club, had previously had success in Ligue 1 with Monaco and Aulas felt that justified the signing. Aulas later signed Pierre Laigle from Italian club Samdoria and Tony Vairelles from Lens. The 1999–00 season saw Lyon begin the season slowly, but eventually the club took control of the league topping the table following the fifth match day. In the club's first appearance in the Champions League, they endured defeat losing 0–3 on aggregate to Slovenianmarker club NK Maribor. This result shifted the club's European ambitions back to the UEFA Cup, where they made it all the way to the third round defeating Finnishmarker club HJK Helsinki and Scottishmarker giants Celtic, before losing to German club SV Werder Bremen.

At the midway point of the season, Lyon were effectively in first place, but on 15 February 2000, the club suffered a disastrous defeat to Nantes losing 1–6. Four days later, the club was eliminated from the Coupe de France losing to Bastia. The club eventually secured another berth in the UEFA Champions League finishing 3rd for the second consecutive season, despite suffering late seasons losses to Nancy and Lens. Sonny Anderson effectively lived up to his price tag bagging 23 league goals.

Following the season, Lacombe departed his position as manager and was replaced by technical director Jacques Santini. Lacombe was later installed as a special advisor to Aulas. Having already shored up the striker position with Sonny, Santini brought in Brazilians Edmílson and Caçapa and also captured Swiss international Patrick Müller in order to solidify the team's midfield and backline. Lyon began the season with three straight draws and midway through the season were in 9th position. In the Champions League, Santini led the club to their first group stage appearance, where they finished in 2nd place, which meant a spot in the second group stage phase, where they were pitted against the likes of Bayern Munich and English club Arsenal. Despite having a better goal differential than Arsenal, Lyon were eliminated from the tournament due to the club's head-to-head matches. In league and cup play, Lyon managed to go on an 18-match unbeaten streak, which resulted in the club finishing runner-up in the league and also reaching the 2001 final of the Coupe de la Ligue, where they defeated Monaco by a score of 2–1 with new signings Caçapa and Müller getting both goals. The victory earned the club their first major silverware since the 1973 Coupe de France win.
The 2001–02 season saw the arrival of Juninho Pernambucano, an unknown in European circles. Santini also brought in the 2001 Player of the Year Éric Carrière and made the decision to increase the playing time of emerging youth product Sidney Govou. The club began the season losing their opening match to title contenders Lens 0–2. The club proceeded to go on a six-match unbeaten streak, which included five wins, to move into first place. In the Champions League, the club finished in third position, which meant a return to the UEFA Cup. In the competition, they lost to Czechmarker club Slovan Liberec in the fourth round. For the majority of the league season, Lyon maintained their second place positioning and had some scares, which included being saved against Auxerre by Sidney Govou, who scored a 90th minute goal to give Lyon a 1–0 victory and keep them on par with Lens. The league ultimately came down to the final match day of the season when 1st place Lens faced off against second place Lyon at the Stade Gerland on 4 May 2002. The game opened with Govou scoring a goal in just the seventh minute of the play. In the 14th minute, Lyon doubled their lead through Philippe Violeau. Later, despite Lens getting a goal from former Lyonnais Jacek Bąk, they were finished off following a goal from Pierre Laigle. The 3–1 victory assured Lyon their first-ever Ligue 1 title. It was their first French league title since the 1944–45 season. The title was a bright spot on an otherwise dormant season for the club, which struggled in Europe and in the domestic cup competitions. A fortnight after the win over Lens, Santini announced that he would be departing the club to take over as manager of the France national football team.

On 1 August 2002, Aulas annnounced that the replacement for Santini would be former Rennes manager Paul Le Guen. Le Guen, who had taken a year off after resigning from his hometown club, was highly noted for grooming players such as El Hadji Diouf during his tenure at the club. Le Guen appllied those policies to Lyon improving the club's training center, the Centre Tola Vologe, and signing youth players like Hatem Ben Arfa and Demba Touré. Le Guen also gave younger players such as Juninho, Péguy Luyindula, and Jérémie Bréchet more prominent roles in the squad. One of Le Guen's more notable signings included signing holding midfielder Mahamadou Diarra from Dutchmarker club Vitesse.

Le Guen began the season capturing the club's second Trophée des champions title after a 5–1 hammering of Lorient. In the league, Lyon recorded big wins over Sedan and Bastia, but fell to as low as 10th position, due to focusing more on the UEFA Champions League, where they again finished in third and were shifted over to the UEFA Cup. Following the Lyon's elimination from the UEFA Cup (0–1 on aggregate to Turkishmarker side Denizlispor) and the domestic cup competitions, the club focused on the league and reached the top of the table with six matches remaining. Facing mounting pressure from rivals Monaco and Marseille, Lyon went on a five-match unbeaten streak, effectively giving the club their second straight Ligue 1 title. Lyon lost the final match of the season to Guingamp 1–4, but the title had already been secured. The club's celebrations were ecstatic having repeated, but later turned to tears as on 26 June 2003, Lyon midfielder Marc-Vivien Foé suffered cardiac arrest while playing for the Cameroon national team at the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup. The death was even more shocking to some as it occurred at the Stade Gerland. Out of respect, Foé's number 17 was retired.
Le Guen's second season saw Lyon win their third consecutive league title for the 2003–04 season. Le Guen continued his policy bringing in young good talent signing Florent Malouda, Michael Essien, and Anthony Réveillère from Guingamp, Bastia, and Valencia, respectively. The club also signed veteran Brazilian Élber Giovane and promoted the young left back Jérémy Berthod to the senior team. In the league, Lyon was mostly dormant during the fall season only reaching the top of the table in the spring on 20 March 2004, following a 1–0 victory over Nantes. The club also were shockingly defeated in Coupe de la Ligue losing to Lens in their opening match on penalties. Lyon, eventually, held on to their hold giving the club their third consecutive Ligue 1 title. The club performed especially well in the newly revamped format of the UEFA Champions League reaching the knockout stages after winning their group, upending the German powerhouse Bayern Munich. In the Round of 16, Lyon were pitted against Real Sociedad and defeated the club 2–0 on aggregate advancing to the quarterfinals where they lost to Portuguesemarker club Porto, who ultimately won the competition.
The 2004–05 season saw Lyon win their fourth consecutive Ligue 1 title by a majority margin. With many of his players being linked to clubs abroad, Le Guen openly denounced the rumors keeping his core players at the club and also signing Ligue 1 starlet Éric Abidal from Lille and Sylvain Wiltord and the Brazilian defender Cris and striker Nilmar from abroad. Lyon began the season capturing their third straight Trophée des champions defeating Paris Saint-Germain on penalties and got off to a fast start in the league. By October 2004, the club had easily achieved a sizable lead that they would never give up winning the title by an amazing 12 points. In the Champions League, the club's dominance on the domestic level was finally shifting to the European level. Lyon cruised through to the knockout rounds losing only to Manchester United. In the knockout stages, Lyon dominated Werder Bremen 3–0 in Germany and destroyed them 7–2 at the Gerland. Going into the quarterfinals, Lyon were heavy favorites against Dutchmarker club PSV, but were shockingly held to 1–1 draws in both legs and eventually bowed out on penalties. On 9 May 2005, with Lyon favorably ahead in the league, Le Guen announced that it would be his final season at the club. He resigned, despite being offered a three-year contract extension by management. Following the season, midfielder Michael Essien was awarded the UNFP Player of the Year award becoming the first Lyon player to achieve this honor.

Just two weeks after Le Guen's announcement, on 29 May 2005, club president Jean-Michel Aulas announced that the club had reached an agreement with former national team and Liverpool manager Gérard Houllier with Houllier agreeing to a two-year deal. Houllier, already equipped with a championship side, brought in strikers Fred and Norwegianmarker John Carew and midfielders Benoît Pedretti from Marseille and Portuguese international Tiago from Chelsea to fill the void of the departed Essien, who moved to Chelsea. The Essien transfer concluded a summer-long transfer battle between the Ghanaianmarker and the club. Houllier, a known youth developer, also increased the playing time of youth products Karim Benzema, Hatem Ben Arfa, and Jérémy Clément. He also inserted Juninho as lead captain.

Lyon began the 2005–06 season going on a 15 match unbeaten streak. This included another Trophée des champions title and victories in the league and Champions League. One of those victories included Lyon humbling Spanish giants Real Madrid 3–0 at the Gerland in front of a sold-out crowd in the club's opening group stage match of the 2005–06 UEFA Champions League. Lyon continued their domination of the group going undefeated. In the league, the club went on unbeaten streaks of seven matches on three occasions. The club reached the top of the table on 28 August 2005 and never gave up the spot winning their final league match 8–1 over Le Mans, in which Fred scored a hat trick. The victory was, without question, the best of the season, but wasn't required as the club had already secured their league title following the 35th match day. In the end, Lyon captured their fifth consecutive title winning the title by a stunning 15 points. Lyon, however, suffered heartbreak in the cup competitions, losing in the semi-finals of the Coupe de France to rivals Marseille and also suffering elimination from the Champions League in the quarterfinals to Milan, despite being minutes away from advancing to the semi-finals due to an away goal from Mahamadou Diarra. Milan secured the berth with an 88th minute goal from Filippo Inzaghi. After the season, a Lyon player was awarded the UNFP Player of the Year, for the second straight year with Juninho earning the honor.
The 2006–07 season saw Lyon increased other clubs notion that they were a selling club as they loss Diarra to Madrid for approximately 25 million, sold John Carew the previous winter to Aston Villa in a swap deal for Milan Baroš, and let Jérémy Clément leave for Scotlandmarker for a modest 2.5 million. Houllier and Aulas, however, replaced these players with Ligue 1 stars. These included the Swedemarker Kim Källström from Rennes, Jérémy Toulalan from Nantes, and Alou Diarra from Lens. The season, for the first time in years, saw Lyon perform well in all competitions. In the league, Lyon achieved historic success topping the table at the winter break with a record 50 points. The club reached the quarterfinals of the Coupe de France and made it all the way to the 2007 final of the Coupe de la Ligue, where they lost to Bordeaux 0–1 due to a late goal from Carlos Henrique. In the Champions League, Lyon continue to display their dominance in the group stage going undefeated for the second straight season. Unfortunately, for the first time in three years, Lyon suffered eliminated, not in the quarterfinals, but in the Round of 16, losing to Roma after being decisively beaten 0–2 at the Gerland by the Giallorossi. Despite struggling during the second half of the league, Lyon maintained their first place positioning again winning the league, their sixth straight, by double digits. Malouda later completed the hat trick that season winning the Player of the Year award becoming the third Lyon player to be bestowed with the honor. After the season, manager Gérard Houllier's contract expired and he departed.

In need of a replacement, Aulas decided to bring in former Portsmouth manager Alain Perrin, who was coming off a monumental Coupe de France win the previous season with Sochaux. Before the start of the season, Lyon lost several key players. Most notably Malouda, who left for Chelsea, Abidal, who joined Barcelona, Tiago, who departed for Juventus, and Caçapa, who left for Newcastle United on a free transfer. In an effort to replace the players, Aulas continued his strategy of signing the league's top players. Arriving at the club were Lille teammates Mathieu Bodmer and Abdul Kader Keïta, who joined for a combined fee of 24.5 million with Keïta being Lyon's highest paid transfer at the time. Other arrivals included 2006 FIFA World Cup-winner Fabio Grosso, who joined from Internazionale, César Delgado, and Jean-Alain Boumsong with the latter two joining the club during the winter transfer period.

Perrin began the 2007–08 season with the more modern 4-3-3 formation vacating the tactics of the club's previous managers who opted for the more simple 4-3-1-2 formation. Perrin also promoted the youngster Karim Benzema to the lead striker role and converted Hatem Ben Arfa into a left winger in order to relieve Malouda's departure. Due to this, the club struggled to adapt losing two of their opening three matches. Perrin also lost important players Grégory Coupet and Cris to long-term injuries. Following these setbacks, the team, most notably Benzema, rejuvenated itself and went unbeaten in their next ten matches, which put them top of the table, with Benzema scoring nine goals. In the Champions League, the club, just like in the league, struggled early losing 0–3 to both Barcelona and Scottishmarker club Rangers. The club did manage to reach the knockout rounds thanks to back-to-back wins against Germanmarker club Stuttgart (0–2 and 4–2), a 2–2 home draw with Barcelona, and a big 3–0 win over Rangers on the final match day at Ibrox Parkmarker.
The league season was marked by some erratic performances, disciplinary problems, and by a much less marked domination; Bordeaux emerged as serious contenders for the title and Lyon, despite maintaining first place for the entire season, struggled losing to minnows Caen, Lens, and Le Mans. Lyon were also swept by rivals Marseille, who defeated Lyon 1–2 at the Gerland and hammered them 1–3 at the Velodrome with Lyon's lone goal coming from an own goal by Lorik Cana. The club also endured disciplinary issues with Ben Arfa and defender Sébastien Squillaci coming to blows in a training session, as well as the Brazilian Fred's constant undermining of the club's management, which ultimately led to his departure. Eventually, the league was decided on the final day. In Lyon's match against Auxerre, Benzema scored a goal (his twentieth that season in Ligue 1), a mere 24 seconds after kick-off, followed by goals from Fred and Kim Källstrom, securing the league for Lyon. Had Lyon lost, Bordeaux would have been crowned champions as they also won on the final day. Benzema was later awarded the UNFP Player of the Year becoming the fourth straight Lyon player to accept the honor. In the knockout rounds of the Champions League, Lyon faced Manchester United, and earned a 1–1 draw in the opening leg at home. In the second leg, played at Old Traffordmarker, Lyon held the home side to only one goal, but could not get on the score sheet, thus suffering elimination in the Round of 16 for the second straight season. Manchester United eventually went on to win the competition. Lyon did manage to perform well in the cup competitions reaching the final eight in the Coupe de la Ligue and also winning the Coupe de France for the first time in more than 30 years. In the final, Lyon faced Paris-Saint Germain and, despite, going through some difficult moments during the match, escaped with a 1–0 (goal scored by Sidney Govou) win in extra-time. The victory over Paris Saint-Germain assured Lyon their first ever double.

Dethroned and current state

Following the season, it was announced by Aulas that Perrin would not be returning as manager of the team, despite being the first Lyon manager to win the double. Lyon management attributed the firing to "Perrin's several malfunctions that affected the squad daily throughout the season" and their constant failure in Europe. Following an extensive search, which linked the Lyon managerial position to several managers, including former Manchester United assistant and current Portugal national football team coach Carlos Queiroz, Brazilianmarker manager Vanderlei Luxemburgo, and former Frenchmarker players and managers Didier Deschamps and Laurent Blanc to name a few, it was announced on 18 June 2008 that Lille manager Claude Puel would succeed Perrin.

Before Puel's arrival as manager, Aulas made several transfers, which included bringing in Nice teammates Ederson and Hugo Lloris, Metz prodigy Miralem Pjanić, and Lille midfielder Jean II Makoun. Following Puel's arrival, the club brought in the Ghanaian defender John Mensah and Monaco striker Frédéric Piquionne. The additions were later offset by the departure of veterans Sébastien Squillaci, Grégory Coupet, and Patrick Müller, as well as youngster Hatem Ben Arfa, who joined rivals Marseille.

Lyon began Puel's reign in negative fashion losing their first Trophée des Champions, after having won six straight, to Bordeaux. In the league, Lyon opened the season going on a seven match unbeaten streak before being embarrassed by Rennes in what the media described as a "thrashing". Lyon responded positively to the loss going on another unbeaten run, this time of six matches, but, following a surprise loss to Paris Saint-Germain went on a three-match winless streak, which included a loss to relegation struggles Nantes. With rivals Bordeaux and Marseille on their tracks, Lyon again responded going on a nine match unbeaten streak allowing the club to maintain their first place position. In the Champions League, Lyon, unlike last year, went unbeaten in their first five matches drawing the first two against Bayern Munich and Fiorentina and winning the next three scoring seven goals in two matches against Romanianmarker club Steaua Bucureşti and defeating Fiorentina 2–1. In the knockout rounds, Lyon, for the second straight season, were provided a tough test going against Barcelona. Despite controlling the first leg at the Gerland, which ended 1–1, Lyon were hammered 3–6 in the second leg by the Catalans, who later won the competition.

In the cup competitions, Lyon were embarrassed by second division club Metz losing their opening match in the Coupe de la Ligue 1–3. In the Coupe de France, Lyon defeated Marseille in the Round of 32. In the ensuing round, they suffered defeat to Lille 2–3, despite coming back from a goal down on two occasions. Lyon later lost to Lille in the league a mere three days later and, on 11 April 2009, following a draw with Monaco, lost their grip on first place position. Lyon followed the draw by going on a three-match winless streak, which included a loss to title contenders Bordeaux and a disastrous defeat to Valenciennes, which effectively eliminated the club from title contention. Despite going undefeated in their final four matches, Lyon finished in 3rd position behind Marseille and champions Bordeaux. The finish ended an impressive streak of seven successive titles.

Ownership and finances

Olympique Lyonnais is owned by Rhônemarker businessman Jean-Michel Aulas, who acquired the club on 15 June 1987. He serves as the founder and chief operating officer of CEGID (Compagnie Européenne de Gestion par l'Informatique Décentralisée). After riddling the club of its debt, Aulas restructured the club's management and reorganized the finances and, in a span of two decades, transformed the club from a second division team into one of the richest football clubs in the world. However, Aulas has been lambasted for, according to critics, running the club as if it were a business. The club currently operates on the European Stock Exchange under the name OL Groupe, initialed OLG.

In April 2008, business magazine Forbes ranked Lyon as the thirteenth most valuable football team in the world. The magazine valued the club at $408 million (€275.6m), excluding debt. On 12 February 2009, accountants Deloitte released their annual Deloitte Football Money League. In the report, Lyon were rated in the twelfth spot, reportedly bringing in an annual revenue of 155.7 million for the 2007–08 season, which ranks among the world's best football clubs in terms of revenue.

Aulas currently serves on the board for the European Club Association, a sports organization representing football clubs in Europe. He was also the last president of the now-defunct G-14 organization.

As of 10 November 2009.
Club Management
President and Chairman Jean-Michel Aulas 
Managing Director Thierry Sauvage
Sporting Director Marino Faccioli
Director of Communications Olivier Blanc
Commercial Director Olivier Bernardeau
Marketing Director Didier Kermarrec
Security Director Annie Saladin
Director of Special Operations Mathieu Giraud
Special Advisor Bernard Lacombe


Stadium

View of the Stade de Gerland


Olympique Lyonnais has played at the Stade de Gerlandmarker since 1950, the year of the club's foundation. In 1910, the mayor of Lyonmarker, Edouard Herriot, came up with the idea to develop and build a sports stadia with an athletics track and a velodrome in the city. In 1912, the stadium was officially mandated and local architect Tony Garnier was given the reins to designing and constructing it. Construction began in 1914 with hopes that the stadia would be completed before the International Exhibition of 1914. However, due to World War I, construction was temporarily halted, but resumed following its conclusion in 1919. By 1920, the stadium was completely functional. In 1926, the Stade de Gerland was inaugurated by Herriot.

Olympique Lyonnais began play at the Gerland in 1950 and have remained at the stadium since. The stadia originally had a cycling track, but was removed in order to increased the seating capacity to 50,000. In 1984, minor renovations were made to the stadium by architect Rene Gagis. This included construction of the Jean Bouin and Jean Jaurès stands. Further renovations were needed to prepare the stadium for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, as by that time FIFAmarker had mandated that all stadiums used for international matches, including the World Cup, had to be all-seated. The north and south stands, known as the Jean Jaurès and Jean Bouin stand, respectively, were completely knocked down and rebuilt, and the athletics track that had remained, even after the cycling track had been removed, was taken out. The renovations were done by architect Albert Constantin. The new incarnation of Gerland had a maximum capacity of 41,044 and is the current capacity.

On 1 September 2008, Olympique Lyonnais president Jean-Michel Aulas announced plans to create a new 60,000-seat stadiummarker, tentatively called OL Land, to be built on 50 hectares of land located in Décines-Charpieumarker, a suburb of Lyonmarker. The stadium, if built, will also include state-of-the-art sporting facilities, two hotels, a leisure center, and commercial and business offices.

On 13 October 2008, the project was agreed upon by the State, the General Council of Rhône, the Grand Lyon, SYTRAL, and the municipality of Décines for construction with approximately 180 million of public money being used and between €60–80 million coming from the Urban Community of Lyon. However, since the announcement, the club's efforts to get the stadium off the ground has been hindered mainly due to slow administrative procedures, political interests, and various opposition groups, who view the stadium as financially, ecologically, and socially wrong for the taxpayers and community of Décines. The project is currently in limbo, but most estimate that the stadium will be completed by 2013.

On 22 September 2009, French newspaper L'Equipe reported that OL Land had been selected by the French Football Federation as one of the twelve stadiums to be used in the country's bidding for UEFA Euro 2016. The FFF officially made their selections on 11 November 2009 and the city of Lyon was selected as a site to host matches during the tournament.



Training center

The Centre Tola Vologe is the training center and club headquarters of Olympique Lyonnais. It is located in the city of Lyonmarker, not far from the Stade de Gerland. The facility is named after Anatole Tologe, commonly called Tola Vologe, who was a Lyonmarker sportsmen and was murdered by the Gestapomarker during World War II. The facility is known for its high-level training and several prominent players have passed through the youth training center. These include Karim Benzema, Hatem Ben Arfa, Sidney Govou, and Ludovic Giuly. The center's hosts training sessions for the senior team and also serves as the home facility for the club's reserve, youth (both male and female), and female sides, who both play their home matches at the Plaine des Jeux de Gerlandmarker. Former Lyon player Alain Olio is the current director of the centre.

Colours and kits

Since the club's foundation, the primary colors have been red, blue, and white, with the latter being the most predominant of the three. During the early years of the club's existence, Olympique Lyonnais primarily played in all-white uniforms. In 1955, Lyon officials decided to add a red and blue scapular and blue shorts to the combination. In 1961, the scapular tradition was disbanded and the two strips of red and blue were shaped horizontally. After six years, the club returned to the all-white uniforms, but kept intact the red and blue stripes, but, instead of keeping them horizontally, inserted them vertically and on the left side of the shirt. Lyon began wearing the shirt during the 1970–71 season and wore the kits up until the 1975–76 season. For the 2002–03 season, chairman Jean-Michel Aulas announced that the club would return the kits. Lyon wore them, with several different modifications every year, for six of their seven consecutive titles.

In 1976, the club endured a drastic change to their kits, ditching the all-white uniforms for an all-red style, akin to Englishmarker club Liverpool. The club wore the kits up until the 1989–90 season, with the 1977–78 and 1978–79 seasons being excluded due to the club adding navy blue vertical stripes to the shirt that was deemed unsuccessful. Following the 1989–90 season, the club returned to the all-white kits and, at the start of the 1995–96 season, the club returned the vertical stripes, but opted to insert them in the center of the shirt, instead of to the left. The club kept this style until the 2001–02 season. For the 2009–10 season, Lyon returned the horizontal red and blue stripes.

Supporters

Olympique Lyonnais has a highly-active and loyal fanbase composed of many groups of supporters. One of the club's most notable supporters group is Bad Gones (Bad Kids). The Bad Gones were established in 1987 around the time of Jean-Michel Aulas's purchase of the team and occupy the Virage Nord area of the Stade de Gerland. During the 2007–08 season, the group celebrated its 20th anniversary. The Bad Gones have a very strong reputation in Europe, due to the club's control of Ligue 1, as well as Lyon's continued appearances in the UEFA Champions League.

Another notable supporters group is the Cosa Nostra Lyon, who occupy the Virage Sud area of the stadium. The group was created in 2007 as a result of a merger between two groups, the Lugdunums, which had existed since 1993 and Nucleo Ultra, which formed in 2000. The merger was created to achieve a sense of stability among supporters. The group is no longer recognized by the club, but continues to operate in a functional manner. Other support groups include the Hex@gones, which was formed in 2000 and sit in the Virage Sud area, the Gastrogones, who occupy the Jean Bouin stand, and the O'Elles Club, who sit in the Jean Jaurès stand.

The club also has support groups that are based in areas outside of the city of Lyonmarker. The Gones 58 supporters comes from the department of Nièvremarker in Bourgognemarker, while Gones 26 origins come from the department of Drômemarker in nearby Valencemarker. Three minor support groups in Septimagones, Loups Marchois, and Dauphigones comes from the commune of Hérépianmarker, the department of Creusemarker, and the department of Isèremarker, respectively.

Statistics and records

Player Matches
  Serge Chiesa 541
  Grégory Coupet 518
  Fleury Di Nallo 489
  Aimé Mignot 400
  Sidney Govou 376
  Juninho 344
  Ángel Rambert 316
Player  Goals 
  Fleury Di Nallo 182
  Bernard Lacombe  133
  Serge Chiesa 119
  Juninho 100
  Sonny Anderson 91
  Nestor Combin 78
  Sidney Govou 76
The Moroccanmarker-born Frenchmarker midfielder Serge Chiesa holds Lyon overall appearance record having played in 541 matches over the course of 14 seasons from 1969 to 1983. Following him is former goalkeeper Grégory Coupet who contested 518 matches over the course of 11 seasons from 1997 to 2008. Along with Sidney Govou, Coupet also has the distinction of being the only player in Lyon's history to win all four domestic French titles having been a part of all seven Ligue 1 titles, the club's Coupe de France triumph in 2008, the only Coupe de la Ligue win in 2001, and six of the seven Trophée Des Champions titles. Govou, Coupet, and Juninho share the honor of being only Lyon players who were a part of all seven title runs.

The club's all-time leading scorer is Fleury Di Nallo, who scored 182 goals while at the club from 1960 to 1974. Di Nallo is also third behind Chiesa and Coupet in all time appearances having played in 489 matches during his 14-year stint at the club. Despite Di Nallo's impressive goalscoring record, he doesn't hold the record for most goals scored during a league season. That distinction goes to Bourg-en-Bressemarker-born André Guy who notched 25 goals, which he attained during the 1968–69 season.

Lyon's biggest victory is 10–0, which occurred of two occasions against Ajaccio in the 1953–54 edition of the Coupe de France and, two seasons later, against Delle in the 1955–56 edition of the competition. Lyon's biggest league victory is 7–0 and also occurred on two occasions. The first being during the 1966–67 season against Angers and the second being against Marseille during the 1997–98 season. The club's biggest victory on the European stage occurred during the 1974–75 season. Lyon hammered Luxembourgmarker-based club FA Red Boys Differdange 7–0.

Rivalries

Historically, Lyon has had a healthy rivalry with fellow Ligue 1 club Saint-Étienne, whom they contest the Derby du Rhône (Rhône derby). However, since the club's dominance at the start of the new millennium, they have established rivalries with Marseille, Bordeaux, Paris Saint-Germain, and Lille. Lyon also share minor rivalries with fellow Rhône-Alpes clubs Grenoble and AS Lyon Duchère.

The Saint-Étienne rivalry began during the 1960s when Lyon established permanent residency in the French first division. The Arpitan rivalry stems from both clubs close proximity of each other, separated by just 38 miles, as well as historical social and cultural difference between the two cities where they are based; Lyonmarker cited as being more upper-class, while Saint-Étiennemarker is cited as being more working-class. The derby also pits the "the recently most successful French club" (Lyon) against "the formerly biggest French club" (Saint-Étienne) and is often cited as one of the high-points of the Ligue 1 season.

Lyon's rivalry with Olympique de Marseille goes back to 23 September 1945, when the clubs contested their first match. The derby, often called Choc des Olympiques (Clash of the Olympics), is often cited as being particularly important as both clubs are of high standard in French football and the championship is regularly decided between the two. Marseille, Saint-Étienne, Lyon are the only French clubs to have won the French first division four straight times with Marseille doing it on two occasions.

Sponsors

Olympique Lyonnais currently have a kit sponsorship with the Englandmarker-based sportswear company Umbro, a subsidiary of the Americanmarker sportswear company Nikemarker. Umbro have provided Lyon with kits since the 2003–04 season and in 2007 reached an agreement with the club to provide kits until the year 2013. However, on 7 August 2009, Lyon announced that they would be vacating the deal in order to sign a ten-year deal with the German sportswear brand Adidas, effective at the start of the 2010–11 season with Lyon earning €5 million a year annually from the deal.

Following the 2008–09 season, Lyon's long-term sponsorship agreement with the French multinational corporation Accor and Renault Trucks ended. On 22 July 2009, the Parisianmarker-based online bookmaker BetClic reached an agreement with Lyon to advertise on the club's kits. However, due to French law prohibiting online gambling, Lyon can not wear their kits displaying the BetClic logo. On 12 August 2009, just before the opening league match against Le Mans, the club was relieved of their BetBlic-sponsored shirts by the Ligue de Football Professionnel, who warned the club that they risked forfeiting points if they wore them. Lyon complied and, since the Le Mans match, have worn sponsor-less shirts while playing on French soil. Lyon does have the freedom to wear their BetClic sponsored shirts outside of France. An example being, on 25 August 2009, when they unveiled the shirts in Belgiummarker while taking on Anderlecht in the UEFA Champions League. Lyon will be allow to display their BetClic sponsored shirt in Francemarker in January 2010, which is when the opening of the market for legal gambling is likely to be approved.

Minor sponsors of the club include LG, APICIL, and MDA L'Electromenage. During Coupe de France matches, the club wear kits sponsored by SFR, Caisse d'Epargne, and Pitch as they are main sponsors of the French Football Federation. During Coupe de la Ligue matches, Lyon wear shirts with the Speedy Triangle logo on the front as they are main sponsors of the LFP.

Current squad

As of the 1 September 2009.


Out on loan

Reserves

Former players

For a complete list of former Olympique Lyonnais players with a Wikipedia article, see here.

Retired numbers

16 – in recognition of goalkeeper Luc Borrelli. Borrelli was killed in a road accident in February 1999.

17 – in recognition of midfielder Marc-Vivien Foé. Foé died while playing for Cameroon in the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup at Stade de Gerland, Lyon. The number was brought out of retirement in 2008 to allow Cameroonianmarker player Jean Makoun to wear it.

Award winners

UNFP Player of the Year
The following players have won the UNFP Player of the Year whilst playing for Lyon:

Bravo Award
The following players have won the Bravo Award award whilst playing for Lyon:

Managers

Olympique Lyonnais has had 22 permanent managers and two caretaker managers since the club's first appointed Oscar Heisserer as a professional manager in 1950. Heisserer also served as the first player-coach of the club, coming out of retirement to play during his final season at the club. The longest-serving manager in terms of time was Aimé Mignot, who managed Lyon for 8 years from 1968 to 1976. Alain Perrin, who managed the club from 2007–2008, was the first Lyon manager to achieve the double.

Current coaching staff

As of 31 October 2009.
Position Name Nationality
Manager Claude Puel
Assistant manager Patrick Collot
Assistant manager Bruno Genesio
First team coach Rémi Garde
Striker Coach Sonny Anderson
Goalkeeping Coach Joël Bats
Fitness Coach Vincent Espie
Reserve team coach Robert Valette
Physiotherapist Jean-Jacques Amprino
Kinesiotherapy Patrick Perret
Kinesiotherapy Abdeljelil Redissi
Special Advisor Bernard Lacombe


Honours

Lyon has won Ligue 1 seven times, which ranks tied for 4th in French football history. Lyon has the distinction of starting a national record-breaking streak of seven successive titles beginning with the 2001–02 season. The club has also been crowned champions of Ligue 2 three times, won four Coupe de France titles, one Coupe de la Ligue title, and a record seven Trophée des Champions. Though the club is a regular participant in the UEFA Champions League, they have only reached as far as the quarterfinals. Lyon has won the UEFA Intertoto Cup, achieving this honor in 1997.

Domestic

League

Winners (7): 2001–02, 2002–03, 2003–04, 2004–05, 2005–06, 2006–07, 2007–08


Winners (3): 1950–51, 1953–54, 1988–89


Winners (4): 1906, 1907, 1910, 1913


Winners (1): 1944–45


Cups

Winners (4): 1964, 1967, 1973, 2008


Winners (1): 2001


Winners (7): 1973, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007


European

Winners (1): 1997


Olympique Lyonnais ladies

Olympique Lyonnais currently play in France's top division, the Championnat de France de football féminin. The ladies team was set up in the 1970s as part of FC Lyon, but was attached to OL in the summer of 2004. They mostly play their home games at Plaine des Jeux de Gerland, 400 metres from Stade Gerlandmarker, the main stadium.

Honours



  • Challenge de France
    • Winners : 2003, 2004, 2008.
    • Runners-up : 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007.


References

External links

Official


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