- Sebastien Migne took over as coach of Congo in March
- He had previously spent nine years working as Claude Le Roy’s number two
- Migne tells us what he learned from his former boss
It has become something of a cliché for foreign coaches in Africa to be given the nickname of Le Sorcier Blanc (The White Wizard), ever since Claude Le Roy first took charge of Cameroon.
For nine years, Sebastien Migne served as Le Roy’s assistant, including two years with Congo. Then, in March of this year, Migne accepted an offer from his former employers to take over as coach of the Red Devils. The 44-year-old took time out from his new role to take FIFA.com through the seven lessons that he learned from his former master.
*1 - The opportunity, you will seize
*I worked alongside Jean-Pierre Papin at Strasbourg and Lens. I then found myself out of work, which is when Claude Le Roy got in touch with me via his agent. He was looking for a new assistant to replace Herve Renard, who I had played with in the French third division. At first, I turned him down, as Herve is a friend and I thought he was still with Claude. I didn’t realise that he had left the previous month to become coach of Zambia!
*2 - A taste for travel, you will have
*I’ve always wanted to make a living from my passion, and to travel. To some extent, all football lovers are travellers. To work in Africa, you’ve got to be resourceful. It’s a continent where you’re constantly required to go beyond the call of duty, and where you never stop having to adapt to different situations.
*3 - Strength of character, you will show
*One of Claude’s real assets is how he manages the big stars and their egos. Like Emmanuel Adebayor, for example, who is a fantastic player, but who has a very particular character. You’re always walking a tightrope with him. You have to make sure everything is perfect for him, but without it having an adverse effect on the group.
You must never be intimidated by directors, who may want a say over your footballing decisions. Claude taught me that if you want to be successful in international football, you must not be scared of being told to pack your bags at any given time.
*4 - In the country, you will live
*Claude instilled in me the principle of living in the country where you work. There is local football to develop, new talent to discover, and customs and traditions to learn. You can’t just fly in for the matches and then head straight off again.
*Career alongside Claude Le Roy
2011-2013: Congo DR
*5 - Your freedom, you will reclaim
*It was possibly the most difficult moment of my life when the time came to announce to Claude that I wanted to take charge of the Red Devils. I had meant to stay with him until the end of his career, but sometimes opportunities arise and I think it was the right time, even if he didn’t necessarily agree.
*6 - Into the deep end, you will jump
*I’m really enjoying being the number one and making my own decisions, even if the timing hasn’t necessarily been the easiest. When I came in, we had matches coming up against Congo DR, then Ghana twice, and Egypt - three of the continent’s best teams. So I knew I was taking a bit of a risk, but I still went for it because the aim in the medium term is also to regenerate the national team and to put Congo back up where it belongs, which is to say around tenth or eleventh place in Africa.
7 - The test of time, you will stand
We still have it all to do, and we still need to get back on a roll. I hope that my bosses will show patience, which is not always the case in this line of work. If we manage to work calmly but with passion, bravery and determination, then we are capable of achieving things together. But I don’t want to give anyone false hope. Even if we do manage to get a result against Ghana or Egypt over the coming weeks, there will still be plenty of hard work ahead of us.
*Qualifying fixtures for Russia 2018
*1 September: Ghana-Congo
5 September: Congo-Ghana
2 October: Egypt-Congo
6 November: Congo-Uganda