The canny VC
Jean Tigana has played in midfield and managed professional football extensively throughout France, including 52 appearances and 1 goal for the France national football team during the 80s. Most recently, he took Fulham of London from Football League Division One to the English Premiership, and later the UEFA Cup, but was sacked in March 2003. Jean Tigana followed in the footsteps of countrymen Arsene Wenger and Gerard Houllier, coming to manage in English football in June 2000 and taking the reigns at Craven Cottage from acting player/manager Karl-Heinz Riedle. As a player Tigana will be remembered as one of the greatest French midfielders of the modern era. He started his professional career at Toulon, having been spotted fairly late playing part-time whilst working first in a spaghetti factory and then as a postman. Aime Jacquet saw his potential and managed to sign him on a free transfer for Lyon in 1978 but it was his move £2 million to Bordeaux that saw Jean’s career take off. He was inspirational in Bordeaux’s midfield for eight years, helping them to three league titles and three French cups, as well as taking them close to European glory on two occasions, losing in the semi-final of the European Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup in 1985 and 1987 respectively.
Success continued following his move to Marseille where he won two more league titles and reached the final of the European Cup, beaten only on penalties by Red Star Belgrade. As an international, Tigana was an integral part of one of the most skilful and entertaining teams France has ever produced. Earning 52 caps, playing alongside the likes of Platini, Giresse, Fernandez and Batiston, Tigana helped the French team reach the semi-finals of the World Cup in 1982 and 1986 and to triumph in the European Nations Cup in 1984. In the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, he was vice-captain of the team led by Michel Platini and scored in the historic quarterfinal that France won against Brazil. Jean returned to Lyon for his first experience in management, leading the team to the final of the League Cup and to an unprecedented second place in the 1994/95 championship in only his second season in charge. He took over from Arsene Wenger at Monaco in 1995 and after a difficult start to the season, guided them to within four points of the title, eventually finishing third. After a slow start to the following campaign, Monaco won the championship, thereby qualifying for the 1997/98 Champions League where they saw off Manchester United in the quarter finals before losing to Juventus.
Jean was linked with the French national coach’s post following Aime Jacquet’s announcement
that he would be stepping down after the World Cup but he remained at Monaco until January
1999 before resigning, setting them up for another successful season, which saw them finish third in the league once again. Having taken a break from the game, Tigana came to Fulham with the intentions of building on the success achieved by Kevin Keegan and taking the Cottagers into the Premiership.
Backed by the considerable finances of Mohammed Al Fayed, he made an impressive start, guiding Fulham to 11 successive wins at the beginning of the 2000/2001 season as they stormed to the First Division Championship thanks in no small measure to the prolific strike partnership of Saha and Boa Morte. His fellow professionals voted Tigana as Division One’s Manager of the Year and having added several big money signings to the squad in preparation
for Fulham’s first season in the Premiership, the French tactician will be looking to firmly establish his team as a serious contender in the English top flight.