VIDEO. Clermont – MHSC: Michel Der Zakarian, a heart in Auvergne

VIDEO. Clermont - MHSC: Michel Der Zakarian, a heart in Auvergne

Michel Der Zakarian est resté trois ans à Clermont, un club qui lui a donné sa chance. MAXPPP – CAMPAGNONI Francis

Le technicien montpelliérain a lancé sa carrière d’entraîneur à Clermont, qu’il retrouve dimanche 14 avril, pour la 29e journée de Ligue 1.

He is from here, almost everywhere, and comes from so far away. Armenian by birth, exiled in Marseille, his heart divided between Nantes and Montpellier, Michel Der Zakarian, the coach, perhaps still comes from elsewhere. From the austere land of Auvergne and Clermont ? "I launched my career there, I enjoyed myself there for three years< /em> (2009-12)", he confides, two days before the reunion this Sunday at the Gabriel-Montpied stadium for a meeting with the taste of ashes and for fear of going down.

Return to the mid-2010s. Montpellier did not open the door to him until 2006, Nantes, and Kita, closed it to him in August 2008 after three days and a comeback. Der Zak tastes unemployment on the banks of the Atlantic. "I sent a CV to each club in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2. I received two answers. One from Metz, from President Molinari, the other from Clermont who gave me an essential chance", remembers the Montpellier coach, then without an agent .

VIDEO. Clermont - MHSC: Michel Der Zakarian, a heart in Auvergne

In Clermont, Claude Michy, atypical president (2005-19), quickly identified Der Zakarian. "He’s a good guy. When he shakes your hand, he shakes your hand. When he looks at you, he looks at you. You know, I'm a rural person. He has serious foundations", says the organizer of the French MotoGP Grand Prix. "He's passionate about football and a very good coach. He has his convictions, he respects them. In this somewhat superficial world, that matters. I really liked this upright man even if he has the flashes of his passion", he smiles.

In the shadow of rugby and in League 2

Der Zak travels alone to the center of France. In a double filter shadow. That of the Clermont fifteen of the tough New Zealander Vern Cotter (2006-2014), who teaches ASM to win the hard way and awakens the soul. The other at the heart of a Ligue 2 club, far from the glitter of Ligue 1 and Europe.

"He accepted everything. We had little money, he knew that the players we took on, we took them based on our means. It is quite surprising that he accepted this challenge, it was not easy for a coach. He has the mentality of those people, of self-sacrifice, tenacity and work, because he did a lot", continues Claude Michy.

Der Zakarian arrives alone, without a deputy. And adapts to the people in place: Emmanuel Gas and Jean-Noël Cabezas. "He learned the job quickly. He did a lot of things in a less well-stocked staff than in Nantes, without physical preparation", recalls Guillaume Moullec, former midfielder trained in Montpellier, passed through Nantes and recruited by Clermont (2010-12).

It was built there

"He arrived at a time when the club was under construction and needed rigor", explains l& rsquo;ex-president. In a Clermont, under construction, Michel Der Zakarian, and his mason-like air, builds and builds himself. Rigor, taste for competition, desire to advance day by day, it shakes ambition. "This man of integrity knows how to take people with him, he broadcasts his demands with his double face. The one eruptive on the bench, the other placed during the week", testifies an observer from Auvergne.

Two seasons out of three, Clermont flirts with the climb. He failed at Arles-Avignon in 2010, then in 2012 after having been in the lead for a long time. "He is the first to have made the dream of Ligue 1 accessible ", continues this observer. A dream achieved in 2021 by Pascal Gastien, "a little old-fashioned, like Der Zak".

Also read: Ligue 1. "I don't give a damn about Mbappé", "there could have been a red card", Michel Der Zakarian's reaction after MHSC – PSG

When victory eludes him, when the climb slips through his hands, the doors slam or resist. Michel Der Zakarian broke a wrist and even a foot. "I explained to him that a door could be opened with your hand. But, I have a lot of respect for this gentleman. He deserved to be treated better once or twice. In Nantes, already. Kita paid him to leave and come back. Kita, it’s Kita", smiles Claude Michy.

In the soul of Der Zak, his three years with Auvergnat still burns, like a bonfire. And a starting point to warm up in the Ligue 1 sun.

A bitter barrage against Arles-Avignon

Claude Michy, the former president of Clermont Foot (2005-19), remembers May 14, 2010. And the final for promotion to Ligue 1 in Arles-Avignon, during the 38th and final day.

"I've never been involved in sports, I don't know anything about football", advance Claude Michy. "I told him (Michel Der Zakarian) however that there was a player that&#39 ;it was not necessary to play. There was a boy who was not honest in the group. The following season, he was in Arles. I wasn't wrong. It's the past, that's how life is made", he says.

Arles-Avignon, of president Marcel Salerno, won (1-0) thanks to a goal from Benjamin Psaume…, today a consultant for France Bleu Hérault.

For the first of its three seasons (2009-12), in Auvergne, Michel Der Zakarian's team missed its chance. Clermont will wait until 2021 to finally reach Ligue 1.

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