Montpellier, fans, flag

All you need to know: Montpellier

Publish on 24/02/2021 at 09:26 - I. HOLYMAN


Olivier Giroud made his name at Montpellier where he helped the club win its sole Ligue 1 Uber Eats title, Eric Cantona, Laurent Blanc and Carlos Valderrama have all played there, while women's football has long flourished in the city — turns the focus on one of French football's most colourful clubs.


The first incarnation of the club, Stade Olympique Montpelliérain (SOM), was founded in 1919 and took part in France's first national professional championship in 1932, but the club's current form has its roots only from 1974.


That was when it was bought by Louis Nicollin, a flamboyant businessman who made his fortune in refuse collection. Under his ownership, the club went from amateur football to Ligue 1 in just eight seasons, adopting their current name — Montpellier Hérault Sport Club — only in 1989.


They won the Coupe de France in 1990 with the likes of Laurent Blanc, Eric Cantona and Brazil  international Julio Cesar in their side. It was their second — and to date, last — cup triumph following that of 1929, but there was still a more glorious page in the club's history to be written.


Alternating relegation battles with European football and dropping into Ligue 2 between the 1990s and 2008 when they returned to the top tier, the appointment of René Girard as coach was to prove a masterstroke.


Launching the careers of Giroud, Younes Belhanda and Rémy Cabella, Girard fended off high-spending Paris Saint-Germain in an incredible 2011/12 season to bring Montpellier their first top-flight title.


Club icon: Souleymane Camara

The Senegal international forward initially joined the club on loan from Nice in 2007, but after making the switch permanent, made the Stade de la Mosson his home for the next 13 years. He made 430 competitive appearances for them — 320 in Ligue 1 Uber Eats — netting 76 goals and earning a reputation for coming off the bench to score in crucial games. No one has played more times for Montpellier than Camara, and only Blanc has scored more goals. In March 2019, he became the first player to score in 15 different Ligue 1 seasons in the 21st century. 


Club colours

SOM's original colours were red and white with the current orange and blue strips appearing only in 1990 following a request by the regional council, who were sponsoring the club, to use orange to link to the sun that appeared on their logo. Red shirts reappeared in 2006 but were abandoned in 2009 following a request by fans to return to the orange and blue.


Montpellier, stadium


Stadium: Stade de la Mosson

Capacity: 32,900

The stadium's current appearance dates from a number of renovations between 1988 and 1997, the year before it was used as a FIFA World Cup venue. The name derives from the river Mosson that flows nearby through the La Paillade neighbourhood of Montpellier — and frequently into the stadium during storms — and has been the club's home since 1976. The stadium was also used as a venue for the 2007 rugby union World Cup with the oval ball as popular in the region as the round one.


Ten iconic players

Pascal Baills (1981-91, '95-2000), Younes Belhanda (2003-13), Laurent Blanc (1983-91), Rémy Cabella (2004-14), Souleymane Camara (2007-2020),  Julio Cesar (1987-90), Eric Cantona (1989/90), Olivier Giroud (2010-12), Vitorino Hilton (2011-present), Carlos Valderrama (1988-91)


Did you know?

Along with Lyon, Montpellier were at the vanguard of women's football in France. The team won back-to-back domestic titles in the mid-2000s, and finished runners-up on four occasions between 2006 and 2017.