Galtier's emotional farewell
Last Sunday, Christophe Galtier waved goodbye to Saint-Etienne, his home for the past decade. The longest-serving coach in Ligue 1 sends his team out for the final time when ASSE go to Nancy on Saturday evening.
The 50-year-old's final home match was an emotional occasion and The Ligue 1 Show on beIN Sports followed it all the way. In the club museum a hand-penned letter, newspapers, photos, even a trademark Galtier jacket serve as reminders of the joy the outgoing coach has brought to the fans of this historic club.
"Back on the map"
One fan said: "He's put this club back on the map. In the stands - which are always full now - you sense the club's thriving again. That's down to Galtier. He's a top guy, a legend."
Another added: "He brought European football back here and took us to Manchester, Basel and Milan. We've had magical moments with him, what he's done here is amazing."
The fans are united in their praise for the outgoing boss: "He saved the club from relegation and won us the League Cup after 30 trophy-less years. We younger fans weren't around for the glory years, so we really appreciate the brilliant job he's done."
Before the PSG match, a fourth supporter The Ligue 1 Show chatted too was prepared for an emotional occasion: "It will be hard to say goodbye because he's brought so much to this club, he's an emblematic figure here and always will be, so it hurts to see him go. I'll be shouting his name as loud as I can (in the stands) today. For everything he's done, I'll be eternally grateful."
Galtier has spent nine seasons at the club. Firstly as Alain Perrin's right-hand man, then - from December 2009 – head coach. Galtier transformed Les Verts from perennial relegation strugglers, to League Cup winners in 2013, top-four finishers in 2014, and, crucially, Europa League participants for each of the last four campaigns.
Galtier: "People said I'd last three or four games"
Galtier said: "People said I'd last three or four games. I was determined to last much longer than that. But I wouldn't have believed it if you'd told me I'd be in charge until now."
Saint-Etienne sporting director Dominique Rocheteau listed Galtier among the great ASSE bosses: "He's one of the select few coaches to have made a true mark on this club. There's Robert Herbin, Albert Batteux, Jean Snella and now Christophe! They are the greatest we've seen here."
And for Galtier's home finale, the Marseille-born coach was up against the old enemy Paris Saint-Germain. Galtier did his best to retain his focus, but the emotion of the occasion was clearly getting to him.
Despite going 2-0 down early on, the fans made sure nothing would spoil the big night. It finished 5-0 but the result no longer mattered. Galtier was heralded by all involved on the final whistle. There was a special word too, from one of his former players, Blaise Matuidi.
Matuidi said: "What he's done is immense, I remember we were verging on relegation when he came in and he took the club to Europe. He turned me into an international player, I left for a top club, I can only thank him for turning me into the player I am today."
Marco Verratti concurred: "Saint-Etienne are fortunate to have had a coach like him. He's been great here, I hope he continues his work in France because we need people like him here."
After the game came the tributes, and an emotion-charged goodbye from the man himself: "Stay the same, keep cheering on the team, keep wearing the colours. You're the best fans in France, the best in Europe. Thank you for your support! The fans have always been behind me, I have felt loved here, and it's reciprocal. The tributes and show put on tonight have really touched me."
Perrin: "The send-off he deserved"
Captain Loïc Perrin weighed in: "He got the send-off he deserved. We've done well with him, he got this club back on track, winning a trophy and getting in to Europe regularly… so it's the end of an era."
Co-president Bernard Caiazzo said: "On an emotional level it's very tough. It's like when a child leaves home after 20 odd years. When your kid leaves home, you suffer."
The final word, though, had to go to Galtier: "My three sons are building me a bench facing the sea. They've told me that when I miss the dugout, I can sit on this bench!"