There is never any chance. At the end of a disappointing Euro, Zinédine Zidane retires. A few weeks later, Thierry Roland, the number 10 commentator, was forced to retire by TF1. A year later, “Zizou” returns to the Blues; two months later “Titi” signs his return as a commentator on M6. The two men have been linked since one evening in July 1998. But where the double scorer against Brazil is unbreakable, the statue of “Mr. Foot” is more fragile. His career should have ended at the end of an Auxerre-Sedan, in the final of the Coupe de France, after the decision of the new sports boss of TF1, who had little taste for his projections. It was not and Thierry Roland was able to play, at 68, extra time on M6.
The love story between this Parisian titi and football fans began in 1962 with the World Cup in Chile. Spotted by Georges Briquet and Raymond Marcillac, Thierry Roland is one of these rascals removed from the ORTF after the events of May 68. Purgatory will last a seven-year term. In 1975, he is back on Antenne 2. With a small band of gays – Robert Chapatte, Roger Couderc and Bernard Père -, he launched Stade 2, a show that will become legendary between easy analyzes and commercial coffee. The recipe of this bunch of friends, unformatted, not politically correct, works wonderfully.
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In parallel, Roland comments on the meetings of the France team or the exploits of the French clubs in the European Cup. With a unique style: a confusing banter, a stimulating chauvinism and an explosive freedom of tone. In 1976, he went out of his way against the France-Bulgaria referee: “Mr. Foote, you are a bastard! Summoned by management, but supported by his colleagues and viewers, the commentator gets away with it, as he will say, punctuating his sentence with his characteristic laugh: « I have a suspension match. » Honor is safe.
Popular for some, populist for others
After Bernard Père, Roland finds himself another acolyte who will become his favorite playing partner: Jean-Michel Larqué. It is a brilliant idea. The ex-captain of the Greens, recently retired, is thoughtful when Roland is instinctive. “Jean-Mimi” tempers the excesses of his friend and provides the tactical-technical details that Thierry Roland abandons. Contrary to popular belief, Roland is a connoisseur of football, following every game, making calls, sometimes late, to coaches or players to check on the team. No doubt, however: in less than ten years, Roland has become the voice of football and his comments punctuate the soundtrack of the exploits of the band at Platini, sprinkling the matches with metaphors or expressions that have not taken a wrinkle (“They will not spend their vacation together”, “He was broke like a rabbit in flight”). In 1984, Larqué and him spin on TF1. In 1987, the channel was privatized and the duo Mougeotte and Le Lay, the channel’s two bosses, clearly made football a flagship product. In the mid-1990s, TF1 broadcast up to four matches per week (Champions League, UEFA Cup, French Cup) – unthinkable today, where free-to-air football is an endangered species.
With this exposure and regular freelance Big heads by Philippe Bouvard, Thierry Roland saw his popularity soar. We watch the Blues games more for him than for the players of Gérard Houiller and Aimé Jacquet – it must be said that at that time, we were really bored. The viewers are not moved, unlike the journalistic elite and the Guignols, who consider him populist where he is only popular, of his outings (“Honestly, Jean-Michel, don’t you think he Is there anything other than a Tunisian referee to referee a match of this importance? “in 1986;” There is nothing that looks more like a Korean than another Korean, especially dressed as a footballer, especially since they all measure 1.70 meters, that they are all brown, apart from the guard ”), from his sympathies on the right or from a controversial interview with the newspaper Present (« It is true that Le Pen is a bit excessive, but it is true that there are certain points on which I agree with him ”). 1998 is coming.
I believe that after seeing this, we can die in peace! Finally, as late as possible. Ah! It is superb ! What a foot! Oh fuck !
Undisputed supporter of the Blues, Thierry Roland accompanies the adventure of Deschamps, Blanc and Zidane. On July 12, facing Brazil, Zizou and Emmanuel Petit send France to seventh heaven. Roland says out loud what the 20 million viewers think from their sofa: “I think after seeing that, we can die in peace!” Finally, as late as possible. Ah! It is superb ! What a foot! Oh fuck ! “In people’s minds, Titi and Jean-Mimi also won this World Cup, then the Euro. They are inseparable from successes (1998, 2000, 2001) then failures (2002 and 2004). This televisual couple knows only one prank: in 2002, Larqué gets carried away against Roland at the half-time of a match for a story of tickets (“Don’t give me a lesson, be nice […] don’t piss me off ”; “You’re wrong, Thierry”; “I don’t care”; “I know you don’t care about anything”; “But take care of your butt”; “I will not leave that hanging on everything Thierry Roland that you are”). Everything will be in order, but this prank, broadcast, will be the head of the press.
You may well be known, appreciated, revered, you are first of all a registration number.
Despite all this, nothing seems to predict the thunderclap of September 22, 2004: TF1 announces that Thierry Gilardi, the Rolls-Royce of commentators, is leaving Canal + to comment on the matches of the Blues. Roland is relegated to TPS and the Coupe de France. Although affected by a stroke in 2003, the voice of football remained the man for the job. But the change at the head of the sports department of the front page was fatal. Charles Villeneuve, the man of Right to know and whose knowledge of football is limited, wanted to mark his new power by sacrificing the popular icon. The future boss of PSG, however, does a great job by recruiting the best football journalist of his generation. For Roland, the decision is difficult to accept. “You may well be known, appreciated, revered, you are first of all a registration number. There, I am pushed towards the exit, while I did not make a mistake in the execution of my job. I think it could have been done in a more skilful way ”, he laments in The world. He comments on his last meeting of the Blues on November 17, 2004. The France team does not shine against Poland and Roland cracked by returning the antenna in front of an emotional Jean-Michel Larqué, but who did not wish to leave with his sidekick . If the journalist agrees to comment on a few Premier League and Coupe de France matches, he cannot accept this downgrading. He left TF1 at the end of the 2005 season and left with his sword against Villeneuve, whose incompetence he criticized.
One last snub
We think then that Thierry Roland will join these former television heroes who wait, in vain, for a phone call to relaunch. This phone call will arrive a few weeks after his departure from TF1. M6, who has just acquired the rights to the 2006 World Cup (excluding the France team), calls him and offers him to play football on this novice channel. Roland can not help: join M6, what a nice snub to his former employer and Villeneuve – “It’s like a speed bump, except that there is no back, just the ‘donkey. The World Cup is going wonderfully well and M6 and its new star (69 years old!) Renew the experience in 2008 and 2012. With this particularity for the Ukrainian-Austrian Euro: the reformation of the legendary duo Roland-Larqué, the latter having left TF1.
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France is impatient, especially since they have to comment, as in the good old days, the Blues. A few days before the start of the European Championship, Thierry Roland was hospitalized and had to give up going to Ukraine. Jean-Michel Larqué will not find his illustrious accomplice: the voice of football died out on June 16, 2012. A wave of emotion swept over France, marked by the tears of “Jean-Mimi”. Unprecedented situation: then UEFA boss Michel Platini, friend of the commentator, imposes a minute of silence before Sweden-France.
Unbolted during his lifetime, the statue of Thierry Roland is now perfectly installed in a very dull football audiovisual landscape – apart from Stéphane Guy: everyone agrees that he did not comment on football, he was football. The proof: a few hours before his death, he experienced the victory of the France team against Ukraine (2-0) and fell asleep with the feeling of duty accomplished. There is never any chance.
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