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“For young people, PSG is the world of illusion” / France / PSG / SOFOOT.com

The casting :

Boukary Drame: PSG defender between 2005 and 2007 (38 games).
Tripy Makonda: PSG defender between 2008 and 2011 (27 games).
Guy Lacombe: PSG coach between 2005 and 2007.
Anthony Vivian: president of the association “Titis du PSG”, at the origin of the term “Titi” .


To the roots of the “Titi”

Boukary Drame: “Titi” , that’s the definition of a resourceful little guy. A guy who manages to get by in a city as complicated as Paris. And that is what defines us, the “Parisian Titis”. We managed to climb the steps to sign professional at home, in our city, in our club. We represent the Parisian identity.

“Titi is the definition of a resourceful little guy. A guy who manages to get by in a city as complicated as Paris. And that’s what defines us, the “Parisian Titis”. » Boukary Drame

Tripy Makonda: There is inevitably a form of attachment to the Paris region. Against other clubs in Île-de-France, we knew the value of the match. Without being pejorative, a player who comes from a certain countryside, he may find it difficult to fit into the Parisian climate. This term of “Titi” , it was Anthony Vivien who brought it up to date. It was the time when we really started to take an interest in Parisian training, and this expression began to become part of our daily lives.

Anthony Vivian: It dates back to August 2006, the day after the title of French U18 champions with the Chantôme, Sankharé, Mulumbu, etc. generation. I was very disappointed with the coverage of this title by the club, when it was not used to having such results with its young people. This is where it all started, this title served as a springboard for several young people. So I wanted to put that forward, we had to find a nickname like for the Minots de Marseille, the Gones de Lyon or the Ch’tis in the north. There are codes, we don’t wear the PSG jersey like that of the PFC, Créteil, Red Star…

Guy Lacombe: Paris has this wealth, with many players in 30 square kilometers around … All Parisians and the suburbs are Titis, they identify through that.

A special place at PSG

Drama : I signed pro in the summer of 2005, under Vahid Halilhodžić, a few weeks before he was fired. I remember that to be entitled to this contract, we had to fight hard with the management. If we had two players who signed pro in the space of five years, we were already happy. That this issue is still relevant therefore only half surprises me, because the club has often discredited its young people.

“Nasser’s mistake was to say, ‘We’re going to find the new Messi.’ He should have said instead: “We’re going to find the new Luis Fernandez or the new Clément Chantôme.” » Anthony Vivian

Makonda: In fact, young people are at the center of the project without being so. Even if training is not central for professionals, it is for young people. The clubs that will come knocking on the door to recruit them are often top-level clubs. We saw it recently with Nkunku or Diaby.

Vivian: The PSG training center has always been of a very good standard. For example, during the title of champions of France in 1986, half of the workforce came from the training center.

Lacombe: When I arrived, I knew the training center was working well. Of course, as a former trainer, I immediately had an eye on training, and with Bertrand Reuzeau, we collaborated well. The Titis, at least, they have the club spirit. After me, Paul (Le Guen) needed two years to change the squad, it took time, but there were already some Titis who were important. Then, when the Qataris arrived, it was much more difficult for the young players. But despite everything, there are several examples: Sakho, and later, Kimpembe, Rabiot…

Vivian: The error made by Nasser was to say: “We will find the new Messi. » He should have said instead: “We are going to find the new Luis Fernandez or the new Clément Chantôme” find an example from PSG training to show young people that it is a little more attainable.

Late 2000s, pivotal period

Drama : Between 2005 and 2008, we are on the street. The leaders told us that to save the club, they needed experienced players. They bet on lots of guys from abroad, but many were not necessarily concerned with the future of the club. While on the other side, the Titis were satisfied with crumbs. At the slightest mistake, you went back to jogging with the reserves.

Makonda: Even in the training clubs, you don’t have so many young people from training who are needed. It’s often one or two players, no more. Look at Danzé in Rennes. But the hardest thing is to win over time.

“Mamadou Sakho, it was no surprise to anyone. I still have his first training in mind, he hadn’t done in lace. » Guy Lacombe

Drama : However, the coaches wanted us. Laurent Fournier and Paul Le Guen put real pressure on the incumbents, telling them that they would not hesitate to play young people, given the level displayed by the team. But the steering always braked everything.

Makonda: There is this match in Valenciennes in 2007 (where Le Guen establishes Arnaud, N’Gog, Sankharé and Ngoyi and gives the armband to Mamadou Sakho) which changed some things. With the match against Lyon the following week, where there are again several young people who start and are not far from hooking the champions of France. It was really a great group.

Vivian: This episode could have been a shot in the dark. I am thinking above all of Sakho who was then captain in the European Cup too. The real trigger is Chantôme and Mulumbu with Guy Lacombe, who is a training coach and was the first to trust the young people. He was still in training, leaning on the railing.

Lacombe: Let’s say that we were beginning to give them greater importance. We had a good relationship with the educators, and I gave a lot of importance to their opinions. Young people were also beginning to be given greater importance. Mamadou Sakho, it was no surprise to anyone. I still have his first training in mind, he hadn’t done in lace. (Laughs.) Me, what I want is for my team to win, so I take the player who will be the most efficient.

Vivian: Over the past ten years, apart from Adrien Rabiot and Presnel Kimpembe, no one has played many matches. It’s an anomaly. In this 2022 version of PSG, when the reserve team has been abolished, young people are asked to be stronger, earlier and earlier, knowing that the first team has never been so strong. The gap is even bigger than before. I’m not sure that in the next ten years, there will be many who join the first team.

Makonda: Today is a chasm. There is a world between the U19s and the pros. You can be above the rest in U17, but if you don’t do targeted work, it’s not possible.

A heavy label to carry

Drama : With the dimension taken by the PSG, the means at its disposal and all the big names who are now playing there, we say to ourselves that if a Titi signs pro and that in addition he scratches a little playing time, it is that is truly exceptional.

Vivian: PSG is talked about a lot, as soon as a young person arrives in the group, we will talk about it a lot more than elsewhere. I don’t know if we can talk about “fantasy”, but today PSG is a bit of a world of illusion for young people.

Drama : Afterwards, there has always been more indulgence towards the Titis than towards a rookie. Because the supporters know that a Titi, good or bad, will always be more involved than an outside player. We have an unfailing attachment to the jersey. Before being players, Sakho, Sankharé, Mulumbu, Makonda or Mabiala, they are supporters. They don’t cheat.

“That the supporters want to see the young people of the formation succeed, it is normal. Training for them is the soul of the club. » Tripy Makonda

Lacombe: When we see the workforce of Paris Saint-Germain, we must also recognize that it is particularly difficult. And yet, I remain convinced that these young people trained at the club remain assets. I’m not in the secret of the gods at the club, but when we see the players who have left to burn in Germany, maybe PSG could have kept them longer…

Vivian: Can a goalkeeper or a center forward hope to play pro at PSG? In any case, they can’t settle for a 32e of the Coupe de France final. When Carlo Ancelotti plays Rabiot, he gives him playing time in big matches. It is not a young person who will destabilize an entire team. I would like the men’s section to be inspired by the women’s section, which had better results with Baltimore, Geyoro, Katoto and Morroni on the field.

Drama : There is too big a gap between the identity that the supporters wish to have, by uniting their players, and what the management has been proposing for several years. In Paris or in the suburbs, people from the same neighborhood recognize each other. So when one of us signs as a professional, what’s more in Paris, it’s a strong identification and an absolute pride for everyone.

Lacombe: It’s true that the player wants to give that back, he doesn’t want to be seen as an idiot in his city. These are levers on which the trainer can play. The link between the players and the supporters is made more easily.

Makonda: That the supporters want to see the young people of the formation succeed, it is normal. Training for them is the soul of the club.

Vivian: It’s a bit like seeing a member of our family play. You feel like your own son is entering the field. It reminds me of Maxime Partouche, when he enters the field (May 18, 2008 against Bastia in the Coupe de France, editor’s note), the whole stadium sings his name. These are moments that mark a life.

Makonda: Today, you have a lot of people who come to see the U17 or U19 matches. In our time, we didn’t have that, there were just the parents who came. There is also this connection with training because the supporters think that at the professional level, they have taken something away.

Interview by Adel Bentaha and Tom Binet

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