Cup romance is French affair as Ludovic Giuly returns to take on mighty Monaco

Former international is back at his childhood club trying to topple the elite of Europe

Ludovic Giuly is preparing for the match of his life. The 37-year-old has achieved more than most in his 20-year career, winning trophies in France, Italy and Spain. He played in and won the 2006 Champions League final, when Barcelona overcame Arsenal in Paris.

This is not the European Cup final, but the last 32 of the Coupe de France. What this game lacks in stakes, though, it makes up for in meaning. It is Monts d'Or Azergues Foot – a lower-league team also known as Chasselay – against Monaco.

Chasselay, a small town 15km (nine miles) north of Lyons, is Giuly's true footballing love, the club of his heart. He started his career for them as a teenager while his father Dominique – now the club vice-president – was still playing there.

The teenage Giuly left Chasselay for Olympique Lyonnais, and then for even better things, but he will be back in their ground, the Stade de Gerland, where he began his professional career. He is delighted to be back, but this has not been done for his benefit.

Jocelyn Fontanel, the president of Chasselay, said that television did not allow them to play the game at their tiny home ground – called, of course, the Stade Ludovic Giuly – because they did not have enough floodlights. He initially feared the Gerland would be too expensive, with insurance and security to pay, but the clamour was too high, the story too good.

Chasselay have existed in their current form only since 2005, the club being rebranded to MDA Foot five years after the original Chasselay side were merged with another local club. They currently play in the regionalised French fourth tier, the CFA Group B East. They are 13th out of the 16 teams in the division.

However, when you have already played for Roma, Barcelona, Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain, glamour is no longer the point. Giuly rejoined last summer after completing his final season in Ligue 1 with Lorient.

He had promised the club president, Gérard Leroy, who died in 2012, that he would come back. Giuly is now the honorary president, captain, star midfielder and the rest, but his contribution started long before.

"His support has been decisive in many ways," Fontanel revealed recently. "For 15 years he has helped us financially. And for the last year he has been wearing our colours. When he is on the pitch, we know that four or five opportunities will come up. He shows unfailing determination and is an example to others."

Chasselay have struggled in the league this season, but the cup has been a different story. They had to enter in the fourth round, in late September, when there were still 1,152 teams competing in it. The Ligue 1 teams entered in the ninth round, and Chasselay hosted FC Istres, of Ligue 2, earlier this month.

In the packed ground that takes his name, Giuly opened the scoring early in the second half, before the Malian international Cheick Fantamady Diarra equalised.

It went to penalties, for the third time in Chasselay's cup run, but Istres hit the bar twice and put one over. Giuly was down to take the fifth penalty but he did not need to. Chasselay had won the shoot-out 3-2.

Giuly broke into tears. "This is why I am still playing," he said, dedicating the win to the late president. "This is football and I live for it. I will die on the pitch. Nothing gives me emotions like this, except for my children."

Giuly had promised to give an old shirt of Lionel Messi's to Chasselay's goalscorer. Rather than giving it back to himself, he gave it to the club's coach, Stéphane Santini – the son of the former Tottenham manager Jacques– and one of Gerard Pique's to his assistant, Gil Poulet. Giuly has also promised to send his team-mates on holiday in Morocco if they win.

They will play Monaco, a club that has changed dramatically even in the 18 months since Giuly left them for Lorient. Claudio Ranieri's side are second in Ligue 1, thanks to Joao Moutinho, Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez, Jérémy Toulalan and the rest.

They will probably one day do what Giuly did and win the European Cup. But they have to face the old master, "the magical imp" as he is known in France, playing for his home, his family and his first love.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform