Football: Harrow fever engulfs visiting French

Roger Lemerre reveals extra motivation his world beaters are bringing to Wembley.

IT WAS all a far cry from Bastille Day on the Champs-Elysees when the French team celebrated their World Cup triumph with half of France, but hysteria similar to last July still greeted the world champions when they arrived at Harrow Borough's ground last night for a training session ahead of tomorrow's international at Wembley.

An abundance of excitable children and equally excitable French ex-pats produced what might turn out to be the Ryman League side's best crowd of the season, and in future they ought to think about charging on such occasions. Even the Mayor of Harrow turned up in his stretch limo for what was evidently a happening of grand proportions for the whole borough.

For Roger Lemerre, the man with the enviable task of succeeding Aime Jacquet as coach to the French team, it was a chance to retrace his steps back to 1969 when he was a member of the side beaten 5-0 by England, who were then the world champions themselves, of course.

Judging from the way his eyes lit up at the mention of that game, not even the scoreline is enough to taint what are obviously fond memories for the 57-year-old Lemerre.

"It's very present in my mind still," he said. "I thought I was a competitive player in those days but within a quarter of an hour I was totally knocked out by the fans and the fervour of the English team, and when you are losing 5-0 and you hear 90,000 people bellowing 'we want six' it's very tough.

"But I'm still fascinated by English football and that's why I am very happy to be back. The atmosphere never changes and on Wednesday it will be exactly the same. It will be a pleasure to be in the stadium again but it will be difficult because the English team is always so committed."

One man who is unlikely to be there is Glenn Hoddle and Lemerre, while careful not to embroil himself in other people's business, nevertheless gave the impression he would be sad about that.

"It's very difficult for me to talk about that because I don't know the whole story. But Glenn Hoddle is very well respected in France. He has an excellent reputation both as a coach and as a player and everyone was very surprised. In France we appreciate his ideas on football."

France remain unbeaten under Lemerre since the World Cup and lie second in their qualifying group for Euro 2000 with an important match next month against the leaders Ukraine in Paris. By drafting in Arsenal's Nicolas Anelka, who is almost certain to play tomorrow night, Lemerre has already shown he is not afraid to give youth its chance but otherwise he has remained faithful to the group that carried all before it last year.

His task in emulating Jacquet's achievement might seem easier to Lemerre than most given that he has already won a World Cup, having coached the French to the Military World Cup in 1995.

As a player with Nantes, Nancy and Lens he won six caps for his country, but it was as Jacquet's number two at the World Cup that he really made his mark on the international game.

As far as his next assignment is concerned, Lemerre said: "It's very important for the French team to maintain our unbeaten run, but I think Hoddle's departure will serve to motivate the England players even more than usual."

Speaking as he was at the club where Hoddle's father, Derek, was a player for many years Lemerre's parting words seemed to carry an added resonance.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Recruitment Genius: Estimator

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a major supplier of buil...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Application Support Engineer with SQL skills

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas