It was the first choice of President Pierre Ferracci. Since Saturday, Stéphane Gilli has been the new coach of Paris FC, the club with which he has signed up for two years. A recent BEPF graduate, he will have his first experience as number 1. But the 49-year-old has a long history as an assistant, notably alongside Mécha Bazdarevic for seventeen years. And Gilli knows Paris FC (7th in Ligue 2 this season) well, where he has already spent two seasons (2018-2020) and where his visit was very much appreciated.
How do you welcome this return to Paris FC as number 1 coach this time?
STÉPHANE GILLIE. I feel proud and honored to have been chosen by President Pierre Ferracci, who is someone I greatly appreciate. During my first stint as assistant, something happened between Paris FC and me. I felt a real feeling with the leaders, the people who work in the offices, the staff and the players… These are things that cannot be explained. It’s like a family. There is an attachment and bonds that have been created.
Since you left three years ago, have you always kept in touch?
Yes, I often had players and club people on the phone. Even when I was in Morocco, I tried to watch all Paris FC matches. In 2020, basically, I didn’t necessarily want to leave. I still had a year of contract. Going to Morocco was not even for a question of money. It was mostly for personal reasons. I was able to go with my family to Morocco while I was alone in Paris.
Your visit was unanimous internally and with the supporters…
It’s fun. But we know how it works… At the beginning, everything is beautiful. Even if I initially benefit from a favorable a priori, I know that a trainer is first judged on his results. I never counted my hours and I will work to create real energy around the team. Afterwards, a club is not just the first team. I want to federate around her, so that everyone, whatever their function or place in the club, feels involved. I will continue to go to see youth matches in Déjerine or go and chat with the supporters, as we already did with Mécha (Bazdarevic).
“If I got there, it’s thanks to Mécha Bazdarevic”
You were his assistant for seventeen years. What role did he play with you?
Mecha, I owe him everything. If I got there, it’s thanks to him. I can only thank him. He made me evolve and progress by letting me do many things by his side over the years. If the management of Paris FC chose me, it is also because they were able to see me working with Mécha. I was almost a number 1 bis, and I brought my ideas.
This will be your first experience as number 1. Did you feel it was the right time to get started?
Perhaps in the eyes of the general public, some may find it surprising that I am appointed to a club like Paris FC. But I worked with great coaches: Silvester Takač in Sfax (Tunisia), Bernard Boissier in Nîmes, Jean Tigana in Fulham, Mécha Bazdarevic in Istres, Étoile du Sahel (Tunisia), Al Wakra (Qatar), in Grenoble, in Sochaux, in the Bosnian national team then at Paris FC, René Girard at Paris FC, and Vahid Halilhodzic in Morocco… I learned alongside them and I learned from all my experiences. Today, I feel ready to launch myself, to become number 1. In any case, I feel capable of it.
Was becoming number 1 a desire for you?
I’ve been thinking about it for a few years. I had already had a few offers which I declined. There was also the question of the diploma. In my entourage, I was pushed to pass it. I took advantage of this year since our departure from the selection of Morocco to validate my BEPF.
By moving from shadow to light, you nevertheless risk being more exposed…
Thanks to the trainers with whom I worked, I was able to discover all the facets of the profession, even recruitment. I participated in transfer window meetings, my opinion counted. Now, I am well aware that I will be more exposed at the level of communication with the media or relations with partners. But I don’t want to change my personality. I am first and foremost a man of the field. I want to stay the same.
“The keywords of my project will be high standards, benevolence and people”
What objective did the management of Paris FC give you?
The project is coherent, and the club continues to build. We know that he has wanted to move on to the next level for a few years. But if the leaders were looking for a coach who told them “we will go up at the end of the season”, I would not have been the right person. On the other hand, what I can promise is to work, to put in place a game identity to have a team that performs and progresses. I will also strive to promote the young people of the club. During the last matches this season, it was not bad but I would also like us to manage to create a real enthusiasm with the public. If we went from 3,500 people to 7-8,000, that would be good. We are in Paris, we must do everything possible to make people want to come to the stadium.
What will Stephane Gilli’s touch be?
I remain convinced that football is also a question of state of mind, in any case at least for 50%. The keywords of my project will be high standards, benevolence and people. I already want a group that can adhere to these principles. Afterwards, on the field, I hope to build a team that acts, that does not submit and that is able to master the five game situations (placed attack, fast attack, offensive transition, defensive transition and set pieces). Basically, I prefer a four-man defense, but we’ll see depending on the squad.
Apart Julien Lopez, not all players at the end of their contract were renewed. Did you participate in any choices?
Yes. Some were difficult like for Ousmane (Kanté) whom I love, but we were too supplied with central defenders. For the rest, we will move on. As I have seen almost all the matches of Paris FC, I already have ideas and I know where I want to go. The ideal, of course, would be to already have a big frame for the resumption of training, but I know it will be complicated. Afterwards, I also know that I will find very competent people in the staff with whom I have already worked: Armand (Sene, adjoint), Mick (Boully, goalkeeping coach)Christophe (labourer, physical trainer) and Roman (Peyrusqué, recruiter). We know how everyone works so we will save time. We will form a good team to work with.
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