Almost three months after his resignation from Rennes, Julien Stéphan has signed a three-year deal with RC Strasbourg Alsace, where he hopes his progress as a coach will help the club build back towards their glory days.
Stéphan made splash when he took the reins at Stade Rennais FC half-way through the 2018-19 Ligue 1 Uber Eats campaign, taking the club to a first-ever knock-out round appearance in Europe and winning the club's first piece of silverware in 48 years when he engineered a Coupe de France win over Paris Saint-Germain that same season.
The young coach, seen by many as the brightest prospect in the French game, now has a new home, having signed a three-year contract with traditional powerhouse Racing Club de Strasbourg Alsace.
Julien Stéphan, why did you choose to sign with RC Strasbourg Alsace?
"The president [Marc Keller] was very convincing, and the fact that I was arriving at a very healthy club with a passionate environment, were two important criteria for me. It happened very, very quickly. We had our first telephone call on Monday afternoon, and then it all happened. It became obvious to me as soon as we met. I am very happy to arrive at Racing Club Strasbourg. The expectations here are high. There is a lot of passion, a lot of fervour, and that's something I find very exciting. I feel very fortunate to be the coach of RC Strasbourg today. I think that many coaches would like to be in my place. I find that there is a lot of humility here and the ambition to progress, but to do things in the right order. This is something that I liked and that motivated me. When you have the chance to work in an environment like this, I think you have to seize the opportunity and I am very happy to have done so."
What are your ambitions?
"The ambition is to continue to progress and share some great experiences. I think we have all been having a tough time of things lately. We hope that this will gradually return to order. The sharing of experiences will be something very important. The club will continue to progress, to structure itself, and I am also here to progress. I have just come out of a very enriching experience at Rennes, but I am still a very young coach who needs to progress and I think that for me this is a very interesting step in my career."
Didn't leaving a club playing in Europe for a team that regularly battles relegation give you pause?
"We played in the Champions League this season, but it was not planned with Rennes, it was not the ambition. Strasbourg secured survival on the last day of the season, but won a title two years ago. Strasbourg are also capable of having very good results. I don't think in these terms. I know how lucky I am to be able to coach this club. It is an important club in France, with good infrastructure, with fans that supports their team enormously, with very competent directors. We are going to work and do the best we can to progress and get the best results possible."