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1980s Rift / One Day, One Transfer / Episode 23 /

This summer during the transfer window, So Foot returns every day of the week to a transfer that marked its time in its own way. For this 23rd episode, back to the summer of 1984. Claude Bez’s Girondins de Bordeaux believe they have made a huge coup by recruiting Fernando Chalana for 18 million francs. A record for the French championship. But the best passer of Euro 1984 will never have the opportunity to shine in Gironde. Blame it on injuries, certainly, and on his wife, perhaps.

Fernando Chalana will have lived a beautiful summer of 1984. At 25, the one who is already six times champion of Portugal with Benfica leaves to celebrate his second title of Portuguese footballer of the year in France, on the occasion of the Euro. From Strasbourg to Nantes, via Marseille, the attacking midfielder will splash France with his talent. With the high point, this semi-final against the Blues at the Vélodrome. In two ladles of caviar, he allows his people to snatch the extension, then to lead 2-1 in the 98e. With each time Jordão at the finish. Domergue and Platini will prevent Chalana and his family from visiting Paris, but not from gaining everyone’s respect. Best player in this semi-final, named in the typical team of the tournament and crowned best passer, tied with Tigana, Fernando Chalana is the darling of the moment. And all of Europe will not be long in tearing it off. Among the clubs interested, we find among others AS Roma, Barcelona and the French champions Bordeaux of Claude Bez. A high-level platoon, capable of driving the price to an all-time high. And this is how the Girondins pull off the most beautiful mustache of the moment for 18 million francs. A record in Division 1. That summer, only Maradona will be sold more expensive, moving from Barcelona to Naples. “At the club, we were three or four to decide to recruit him. At the time, we were happy to have won the cuprewinds Didier Couécou, then rookie sports director of the Girondins. But it was a failure from the start. He stayed three years in Bordeaux, it was three years too many. A fiasco of first. It was one of my first transfers, and I think it’s my biggest failure. » From 1984 to 1987, Fernando Chalana will only play 20 games with the Navy and White. For a goal scored.

“It was one of my first transfers, and I think it’s my biggest failure. » Didier Couécou, then sports director of the Girondins

“A crackpot completely subservient to his wife”

For Didier Couécou, the main reason for Fernando Chalana’s failure at Bordeaux, apart from injuries, is the player’s personality. And the man is not tender when it comes to evoking the Portuguese: “He was a weakling of the brain. At the time, we didn’t have time to give him psychological tests. » An opinion that does not share Gernot Rohr, who knew the player well. “I immediately picked it up in my room, because Aimé Jacquet liked to put me with foreign recruits. As I studied languages, I could teach them Frenchlaughs today the former Bordeaux defender. He’s a very nice guy, with an ironic sense of humor. A very pleasant boy with whom I remained friends. He was always in a good mood, despite his injuries. » A portrait that is far removed from the one painted by Couécou, who remembers a “tenacious introvert. He wondered how he had landed in Bordeaux. When he spoke, he might have a sense of humor, but he didn’t speak much. » If there is a point on which the memoirs of Rohr and Couécou converge, it is Anabella. Miss Chalana. “She was everywhere! recalls Rohr. Before, during and after training, she was there! » Journalist for In Bola, the Portuguese sports daily, Anabella pretends that she has to follow Fernando everywhere for her job. To the point of asking management to travel with the team, in the company of her husband. “We couldn’t accept that. She said it was for his job, but the truth was that Chalana was a crackpot completely subservient to his wife who didn’t want him there. She didn’t like anything in Bordeaux. » Hard.

“When he came back, he injured himself again by tripping over a root while jogging in the forest. » Gernot Rohr, Chalana’s roommate

God hurt Chalana

If the personality of the player is debated, it is more certainly his injuries that turned his stay in Girondin into a fiasco. “In France, the preparation was a little more violent than in Portugal. Maybe that’s what screwed him up.” , theorizes Couécou, who perhaps has a more credible track than the man’s introversion. Because indeed, as soon as he arrived in Bordeaux, Fernando Chalana slammed his quadriceps during a warm-up match. “When he came back, he injured himself again by tripping over a root while jogging in the forestbreathes Rohr. The quadriceps injury, for a footballer, is terrible. It’s a muscle that is used all the time – during strikes, races – so relapses are frequent. » So much so that Chalana did not play his first match in Division 1 until February 1985, at the Vélodrome. A month before the famous quarter-final return of the European Cup of champion clubs, which will see the Girondins snatch an epic qualification against Dnipropetrovsk.

A legendary shot on goal

Of the passage of Fernando Chalana, the general public mainly remembers two things. His majestic mustache, and his successful shot on goal in Krivoy-Rog, where the meeting against the Soviets had been relocated, Dnipropetrovsk being a city forbidden to Westerners because of the missile factory it housed. While waiting to find out if Chalana’s hairy appendix will be the subject of a future article, we will focus here on her Ukrainian madness. Unable to decide between themselves (1-1, 1-1), Girondins and Soviets had to submit to the cruel test of penalties. While this brave Gennadiy Litovchenko missed his, Fernando Chalana advances as the last shooter to clinch the qualification. And serves his best joke. He, the pure left-hander, springs up and strikes with the right. To the great surprise of Aimé Jacquet, his coach, of Claude Bez and Didier Couécou in the stands, and of all his teammates. And especially of Sergey Krakovskiy, the beaten doorman of Dnieper. But how to explain such madness? Why did Fernando Chalana qualify for the C1 semi-finals on such a bluff? Thirty-eight years later, here again, the explanations diverge. For Couécou, it is certain: the reason is medical, as often with the Portuguese. “He hit from the right because he had a strained left leg. He hadn’t told anyone so he could play. » Rohr has another theory: “He told me it was to fake the goalkeeper. He actually faked everyone. Luckily it came back! » Anyway, this episode will remain by far the most significant of his Bordeaux adventure, whose best of on YouTube barely reaches the minute. It was probably Anabella who was editing.

By Mathias Edwards
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