The scudetto with Lille, the records with Roma and the Europa League close to: the career of Rudi Garcia

The French coach became the protagonist in Serie A with Roma. In 2020 the elimination of Juve in the Champions League with Lyon.

All roads lead to Rome“. Rudi Garcia he chose this as the title for his book, written just a year after his arrival in Rome.

The Frenchman arrived in the capital during one of the record-breaking hot summers in the capital. And not only for the levels reached by the mercury column of the Aeronautica Militare meteorological center.

Roma was back from the hottest of defeats, that of May 26, 2013 against Lazio in the Italian Cup final. A bloody knockout, which convinced the management to change pace after two years of planning enough on promising young people lost due to their performance on the field.

In that incandescent summer, made up of biancocelesti teasing with aerial banners that every day plowed the skies of the Lazio coast, Walter Sabatini he landed a series of shots in sequence to reinforce the team.

But first there was to identify the right coach to replace the void left by the exonerated Aurelio Andreazzoli, the perfect culprit for the Italian Cup disaster.

The first names probed by the Roma leadership were those of Walter Mazzarri and Maximilian Merry. Two profiles that had done very well in their respective experiences with Napoli and Milan and that would have at least calmed the spirits of a supporters already very passionate and wounded in pride by the defeat in the final.

Both technicians, for different reasons but not too much between them, declined the advances of Roma. So it was that the choice fell on Rudi Garcia, Lille’s French coach.

A team that, with all due respect, certainly does not represent the elite of European football. Yet he was able to convince Sabatini and Massara to bet on him to bring Roma back to far more rewarding positions than the sixth / seventh places they had become accustomed to from the parts of Trigoria in the early 2000s.

Among other things, Rudi Garcia, as he himself reveals in his book, it wasn’t even the first choice of Sabatini and Massara. The two managers of the sports area were in fact initially addressed to Laurent Blanc, indicated by Franco Baldini directly from his London exile.

Garcia was welcomed in Rome with the stigmata of the second choice and amid general distrust. He had the utmost consideration, and certainly not in a positive way, for a video that went viral in which he performed with a guitar in the interpretation of “El Porompompero“by Manolo Escobar.

The Nemours technician’s resume was actually anything but meager. His coaching career started from Saint-Etienne, where as an assistant he found himself in the hands of the reins of the team in the general confusion that overwhelmed one of the most prestigious French clubs between 2000 and 2001.

After that a long experience in the minor categories in Dijon, which led from the National (our Serie C) to the higher category and with which he touched the promotion in Ligue 1.

A year in Le Mans, in 2008, where he got to know Gervinho. The Ivorian arrow would become his reference player, and even today the link between the two is very close even if the professional paths have separated for years.

From Le Mans, in 2008 Garcia then moved further north. Direction Lillea city located a few kilometers from the Belgian border.

Here the coach spends five seasons, managing to establish himself as one of the most interesting technical profiles in the transalpine football scene.

In the past five years in Upper France, Garcia wins his firsts two career titles: the championship and the French Cup, both in the 2010/2011 season.

A double which, however, he fails to follow up. Especially in the Champions League, Garcia’s team shows little competitiveness and the magic of the third year gives way to an acceptable third place first and a mediocre sixth place then.

When the conditions to continue his experience at Lille failed, Garcia reveals that he was willing to take a sabbatical and start a TV commentator experience.

Then came Roma, and you’ve already read the rest of the story at this point. And let’s get back to us.

The Frenchman, aware of the delicate task he had taken on, was able to capture the attention of the Romanist public on him, with phrases that had the same effect as a slap with an open hand in the face.

“Those who criticize the club and the players cannot be Roma fans. When you love your team, you encourage it. At most they can be Lazio fans.”

Boom. A missile straight to the heart of the hottest part of the Roma supporters. Who did not take it well. The reaction of the supporters however showed how much the Frenchman had hit the mark, even if a few days later he ran the shot on the microphones of the official Giallorossi TV.

To the media work, the management combined the financial support to deliver an eleven to Garcia capable of competing for the top.

There were experienced players of the caliber of Morgan De Santis and Maicon, but also promising players and about to become crack like Mehdi Benatia and Kevin Strootman and a couple of talented players but to be relaunched after bad years, see Adem Ljajic.

But the signature of Garcia was missing, the player who could have made that team his team. And the choice could not fall on anyone else but on Gervinho.

The championship begins and the impact of the new Roma is devastating. Garcia made his Serie A debut in Livorno, on a day that looks like Daniele’s last de Rossi in the yellow and red jersey. But it is precisely the 16th of Ostia that marks the first of the two Roma goals in Tuscany and sweeps away the uncertainties of another anonymous season.

Garcia’s team wins the first ten games of the 2013/2014 championship, becoming the only Italian to have hit this record still unbeaten today.

Garcia closes his first championship in Italy in second place with 85 points, bringing Roma back to the Champions League and scoring the record of points scored in a single season by the Giallorossi.

The following year seems to be the one in which to transform the work of the first year into the realization of the dream: the Scudetto.

Things will turn out differently. Despite a promising start, the first watershed of the season is the direct clash lost with various referee controversies against Juventus in Turin. Some incorrect decisions of Mr. Rocchi led to vehement protests by Garcia, who in assigning the penalty to the Bianconeri for a hands outside the area of ​​Maicon mimicked the gesture of the violin towards the referee.

From then on, Roma began to gradually lose play, certainties and points on Juventus, settling back into second place but with much more difficulty than the previous season.

The crisis of the Garcia government opens one night in late October. At the Olimpico the Bayern Monaco in the Champions League, an appointment at which Roma shows up with 4 points collected with CSKA Moscow and Manchester City and convinced that they can also stop a battleship like that of Guardiola. It is not so.

The Germans scored 7 goals, extensively reducing the Romanist European ambitions. From then on, Garcia and his will experience a very complicated period, exacerbated by the crisis in the 2015/2016 season.

After the last game of that championship, the Frenchman expressed himself in a way that suggests that things cannot go well, underlining how Roma cannot compete with Juventus as they do not have adequate financial resources.

The 2015/2016 season begins along the lines of the previous one and costs Garcia the exemption in January, with the acme of the drama experienced in the Italian Cup in December due to the elimination on penalties at the hands of Spezia.

After Rome, Garcia finds a chance in Marseille. In the three years at the OM, the coach partially relaunches himself by obtaining two fifths and a fourth place, but above all by bringing the club back to a European final (that of the Europa League lost against Atletico Madrid in 2018).

In 2019, after leaving the south of France, he accepts Lyon’s offer. With the noble decline of French football, things are going very well in the cups, less so in Ligue 1.

He closes the two championships with the other Olympique of his career with a seventh and a fourth place, but comes close to winning the League Cup, surrendering to penalties against PSG and above all leads Lyon to the first Champions League semi-final in its history by eliminating Juventus and Manchester City in the round of 16 and quarter-finals.

At the moment Rudi is waiting for a new team to get back in the game, but he continues to look fondly on his Italian experience.

The French coach has always remained very close to Roma and has never made a secret of it.

On the occasion of the victory in the double confrontation with the Juventus in the round of 16 of the 2019-2020 Champions League, Rudi Garcia made his debut in the post-match press conference by sending a message to his old fans.

“Guys, we did it!”

A welcome message from the parts of Rome. A city that, despite the label of a difficult environment, always manages to leave something in the heart of those who have the opportunity to undertake a professional path in the capital.

Garcia himself paid for the difficulties with the exemption, seeing the same fans who a few months earlier had raised him to the status of a new leader destined to bring the Giallorossi team back to the top.

But if all roads lead to Rome, it is not certain that one day the transalpine with the Iberian name will be able to retrace them and return to Italy. On the other hand, you always go back to where you were good, right?