Following this morning’s news that former Marseille president Bernard Tapie had passed away aged 78, tributes have poured in from across the footballing world, notably from the club itself, OM players and ex-players.
Tapie, one of French football’s most iconic and controversial characters ever, oversaw eight years of success in the late 80s and 90s for Marseille, notably with four league titles and a Champions League triumph in 1993.
Among those paying hommage to the former businessman were former Marseille player Chris Waddle, various members of the current squad, as well as Ligue 1 rivals Bordeaux, Paris Saint-Germain, Nice and Montpellier. Beyond the French footballing world, president Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to Tapie’s “ambition, energy and enthusiasm”.
Speaking to RMC Sport, former Marseille defender and member of the 1993 side Éric Di Meco gave a teary-eyed tribute to Tapie live on air:
“It’s been a difficult day. Those are eight years of my life. We were expecting him to leave us, since the news wasn’t looking good [regarding Tapie’s cancer]. I have a special relationship with him, he’s always been my boss. I’ve always called him “president” and formally addressed him. He was sometimes harsh with me. He was so demanding that many of my friends had to leave the club when he wanted to push on and he felt that things weren’t going right. It could have been me.”
“I was very lucky to come across that man and work with him. Because there are extraordinary men out there, and he’s one of them. I was never one of his “sons” in the dressing room. But towards the end I was texting him. We had a mutual affection, with regard to what we’d been through.”
“I only remember the good parts because before he arrived in 1986, the club was in a bad state. We were fighting to stay up. My life changed when he arrived. If he hadn’t come to OM, I wouldn’t have the same career, nor the same life as I do now. You also have his personality. He was so close to us. He would show up at midday when there was a match in the evening, he would eat next to us. He always had a word for the lads. If he’d been a guru, he would have had a cult with a million followers. He understood football better than those who had been surrounded by it from their childhood.”