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 29th episode, back to 2001. If Ronaldinho, future Ballon d’Or, arrives in Paris, further south, Roberto Assis, brother of, arrives at the MHSC. A flop in the field, but not at all outside.
Cédric Barbosa immediately confesses: “At first, I didn’t even know it was him. It was said that he was Ronaldinho’s brother, but it was difficult to know if it was true or not. » In this summer of 2001, it is the event on the side of the Paillade. Returning from Division 2 a few weeks earlier, Loulou Nicollin’s MHSC attracted the spotlight: Roberto Assis, brother of the planetary phenomenon Ronaldinho, who recently joined PSG, signed in Hérault. “I seized the opportunity to join the country of world champions and a club that we know at home through Júlio César (ex-Brest and Montpellier player in the 1980s, Ed) » reveals Sitting in The Team.
At 31, he is an experienced player who arrives at La Mosson: Grêmio, Fluminense and Corinthians in Brazil; Sporting CP and Estrela Amadora in Portugal; Sion in Switzerland; Consadole Sapporo in Japan; Tecos in Mexico… A globetrotter who has remained in the (bad) memories of some Marseille supporters: in the round of 16 of the 1994 UEFA Cup, Roberto Assis had a nice festival based on sombreros in the Olympian area. FC Sion had released the teammates of Tony Cascarino and Hamada Jambay (2-0, 1-3). “We knew the young Ronaldinhoremembers Rudy Riou. So the unknown was which extraterrestrial was coming: the same one? Not the same ? The opposite? A big ? »
Executioner of OM in C3
Seven years after Sion-OM, it is no longer the same song. At least on a physical level. “I remember his signature, we were on summer internshiprewinds Serge Blanc. He arrived a little paunchy, he was not physically ready. We had attacked the physical preparation for more than three weeks. » It must be said that Roberto Assis finds a club after five months of inactivity. Another problem: he very quickly suffered a nasty sprained ankle during a friendly against Valencia. Two months on the sidelines. The season starts without him. “When the team is on the way, it’s complicated” concedes Cédric Barbosa. “He didn’t have a lot of playing time.confirms Serge Blanc. He had gaps in speed, velocity. Football was gaining strength physically. It lacked that. He leveled off after forty meters of sprinting. » Barely 20 years old at the time, Laurent Pionnier is clear: “We knew we didn’t have Ronaldinho! For him, it could have been complicated to read and hear all that. He was a good player, but he didn’t have supernatural qualities like his brother. He was a good player at the end of his career, but we hadn’t taken the nugget from Brazil either. » Result of the races: nine D1 matches, one Coupe de France match. And nothing too exciting. “He wanted to do one or two freelance jobs to be in France and be close to his brother” , admits Habib Bamogo. Michel Mézy, the MHSC coach, is certain that Roberto Assis will contribute as soon as he is physically ready. This is in fact never the case.
However, if he has the CV to be part of the biggest flops in the history of Montpellier Hérault, Roberto Assis leaves a completely different image among all the former teammates interviewed, unanimous on his personality. “Exemplary sympathy and simplicitypays tribute, for example, to Jean-Christophe Rouvière. At no time could he make him feel what his brother could be. He had a good mood every day. » “I loved this guypraises Serge Blanc. He was very, very nice, liked to laugh, participated, had a team spirit. » Thanks to his father, Portuguese, Cédric Barbosa can more easily exchange with his Brazilian friend: “He had become a friend. He always had the joy of living. » From there to make him go around the city? “I was very young, I stayed in my corner, it’s not like today” laughs the former Rennes or Évian-TG.
Laurent Pionnier: “We called him “maestro””
What especially marks the former partners of Assis is his technique. “He had a pleasant football” confirms Bamogo. “I guarantee you that with the ball, he had a hand instead of the left footis still surprised Rudy Riou. In training, when you played precision games, he gave everyone a headache every time! » Impossible, for example, to win a game of ball-tennis with a Roberto Assis who “enjoyed” (Serge Blanc). “We called him “master”confirms Laurent Pioneer. With the ball, he showed us things that we tried to reproduce… But, often, we couldn’t. » Positioned in number 10, Roberto Assis brings creativity and vision of the game during his meager appearances. “He was a good ball handler, not a box-to-boxsmiles Cédric Barbosa, roommate of Assis that season. A real old-fashioned number 10, with this very high technical quality. » “The game passed through these playerspoints out Laurent Pionnier. To feel good, he had to touch the ball. »
With even a hint of jealousy at the start for the young Geoffrey Doumeng, who plays in the same area as his Brazilian friend. Serge Blanc says: “It was a bit tense at first. » But, very quickly, Doumeng takes over. “I had other qualities that he no longer necessarily hadhe notes. He had the experience. I managed to make my merry way. There were also other tactical schemes put in place. Him, his position, it was really only in number 10. He had a little less activity, he had to make the others play. We played the maintenance, that too was not easy. »
Unable to shine on the lawns of Division 1, Roberto Assis is listened to. And even a little more than that. “I was able to take advantage of his benevolence towards young peopleappreciates Rudy Riou. He was immediately very close to players like Olivier Sorlin, Toifilou Maoulida, myself and many others. » “He also brought us this South American vision of footballnotes Laurent Pioneer. We were used to rigor, etc. He was “folklore football”, we play barefoot, to have fun, it has to be beautiful…” A Pioneer still disappointed with the contrasting adventure of Assis in the 34: “It’s a shame because we could have enjoyed it a little better… and he could have done better too. »
Ronnie and MHSC’s Brazilian Night
Listening to Geoffrey Doumeng, Roberto Assis did not, unsurprisingly, bring only his vision of football. With him and his brother, it is well known, the nocturnal evenings, on the other hand, are all memorable. Doumeng cannot forget this very special escapade of September 21, 2001. The Pailladins pocket a nice 0-0 at the Parc des Princes. Ronaldinho is the starter. Roberto Seated in the stands. Recomposed, the duo takes everyone for a legendary evening. “It was a partylaughs Doumeng again. Meal in Paris and Brazilian evening. »
Retired at the end of the season, Roberto Assis, already very present during Ronaldinho’s transfer from Grêmio to PSG, puts away his crampons to become his brother’s agent. With the sequel that we know. “I don’t think I sacrificed my career for his, but I will do anything for himpromises Sitting in The Team. I made choices with the pleasure and the will to bring something to my family, because I had to take over from our father, who disappeared when I was 17 years old. Helping Ronnie is not sacrifice, but joy. »
By Timothé Crepin
Words by Roberto Assis taken fromThe Team. Those of Habib Bamogo, Cédric Barbosa, Serge Blanc, Geoffrey Doumeng, Laurent Pionnier, Rudy Riou and Jean-Christophe Rouvière collected by TC.