Garcia: Lille players will be friends for life
Lille coach Rudi Garcia has heralded his players and predicted they will be "friends for life" after they captured the Ligue 1 title with a 2-2 draw at Paris Saint-Germain.
Second-placed Marseille's 2-2 draw against Valenciennes rendered Les Dogues' result immaterial, but they still managed to grab the point they had needed prior to kick-off to end a 57-year wait for French football's top prize. It also completed a famous double -- the second in their history -- following last weekend's 1-0 defeat of PSG in the Coupe de France final.
"There is a lot of pride," said Garcia, who invited his entire back-room staff to join him at the post-match press conference at the Parc des Princes. "There was a lot of work from the players. They realised that work was the essential quality.
"It's a victory for the squad. They don't realise that in ten or 15 years, it will be unique and they'll become friends for life."
With 65 goals in 37 games, Lille are the division's top scorers and have earned plenty of plaudits for the quality of their attacking football under Garcia over the past two seasons. "It's strong," said the 47-year-old. "We've always wanted to go forward, to have the ball and play our game. The players thanked us (the staff) in the changing room."
Lille are one of 11 clubs to have completed the French league and cup double, having previously achieved the feat in 1946. Garcia believes this season's success has secured his team a place in the pantheon of the country's greatest-ever club sides.
"There are some special reference points among the teams that have won the double," he said. "The Bordeaux of Aime Jacquet (1987), the Marseille of Jean-Pierre Papin (1989), the Auxerre of Guy Roux (1996). We've done it."
Polish attacker Ludovic Obraniak, Lille's Coupe de France match-winner, put them ahead after five minutes at the Parc des Princes last night, only for Guillaume Hoarau to equalise in first-half injury-time.
Hoarau was sent off early in the second half after receiving a second booking, before Moussa Sow restored the visitors' lead with his 22nd goal of the season, moving him clear of Lorient's Kevin Gameiro on the scoring chart. However, Mathieu Bodmer rescued a point for PSG by crashing home a fine goal off the crossbar in the 73rd minute.
"It's a big disappointment but there's also a lot of pride in the players' performance," said Paris Saint-Germain coach Antoine Kombouare, whose side must win at Saint-Etienne next weekend to stand any chance of pipping Lyon to a UEFA Champions League place.
Didier Deschamps, who guided Marseille to last year's Ligue 1 title in his first season in charge, was gracious in defeat. "They've been the most consistent, so congratulations to Lille, to all their players, to Rudi Garcia, to their staff and their directors," he told Canal+. "There's only one thing to say: bravo."
Lille's players will celebrate their league success with their fans at the city's Place de la Republique today. The city's mayor Martine Aubry said the team had helped reverse some of the disappointment inflicted by France's poor showing at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
"The dream we've been waiting for since 1954 has become reality and fills with happiness all the people of Lille, of the north, and all football lovers who have become passionate about this team," she said. "LOSC have reconciled the French with football and made us forget about the World Cup."