Girard: Triumph good for French football

Montpellier coach Rene Girard believes his side's Ligue 1 triumph is a "real shot in the arm for French football".

After falling behind to Olivier Kapo's opener away to rock-bottom Auxerre, John Utaka netted a brace to hand the Mediterranean club the crown ahead of Paris Saint-Germain, whose 2-1 win at Lorient was rendered academic.

And Girard said: "I think our triumph is a real shot in the arm for French football. It just goes to show that everyone can beat everyone and that money isn't the be-all and end-all.

I'm so proud of my players who have produced a remarkable season. We played well, scored a lot of goals, didn't concede many.
Rene Girard, Montpellier coach

"We're a club of mates, a club that brings young players through and gives them a chance. At the end of the day, it's worked out well for us. We played some great football, with a well-balanced team and I'm overwhelmed."

Montpellier began the day three points clear of PSG at the summit, but they were made to sweat, first going behind to their relegated opponents and then being forced to wait as the disaffected local supporters launched tennis balls, tomatoes and toilet paper on to the pitch.

Order was quickly restored, but around 20 minutes from full-time the action was halted again. When play was finally able to get under way once again, Montpellier took the lead for good in the 76th minute when Utaka turned in the area and fired home to spark scenes of jubilation among the travelling faithful.

Trophy was a gift
"I was worried because you never know how a match will finish after two interruptions," said Girard. "I could see that [Montpellier president Louis Nicollin] was getting pretty stressed. With five minutes to go, I said, 'relax, think positively', and two minutes later he says: 'OK, I think we're going to do it!'

"He's going to realise just what an incredible moment this is for Montpellier football. If I could give him one gift in the whole world, winning this would be the most beautiful of them all!

"It was the crowning moment of the season. I'm so proud of my players who have produced a remarkable season. We played well, scored a lot of goals, didn't concede many...We deserved to go all the way."

Girard was also quick to pay tribute to the club's fans following their triumph. "Our supporters have been exceptional," added Girard.

"I hope we're going to have the most incredible party with them back in Montpellier. I didn't know we could create such a following, such enthusiasm. I take my hat off to the fans - there are some strong bonds being made between the team and the fans this season."