On Tuesday, one heart will beat faster than the others in the stands of the Al-Janoub stadium: that of Dominique Garnier, a Frenchman who has lived in Sydney for thirteen years. This former national team goalkeeper in the 1980s left Normandy for Australia, where he became goalkeeping coach for the women’s national team and manager of the local Clairefontaine. ” My heart is pounding but I will still be 70% for France“says this big guy with a bald head who will experience his tenth World Cup in situ in Qatar.
For forty years he has traveled the world to live his passion as closely as possible. Forty years of applause, shouts, songs, for those who only started buying tickets in 2018 for the World Cup in Russia. How did he achieve this feat? ” On the nerve trust, either by sneaking into stadiums, or because I had a friend who knew a guy who himself knew a guy in the Blues entourage.The six degrees of separation reduced to nothing with patter and bonhomie.
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Sometimes plans don’t go as planned: in 2006, in Berlin, he believes he can attend the final thanks to the friends of the Federation (FFF) who get him past the first filter dams. But the last one remains impracticable. Pursued by security, he must scale a wall topped with barbed wire with the help of his flag to avoid injury. He runs away but lands on the Italian grandstand: it’s impossible to live this moment in these conditions, he takes all the risks to go around the stadium and reach the Blues fans.
His adventures begin in Spain in 1982. With some friends he leaves Évreux on a whim, riding his Honda CBR 900. He finds himself behind the doors during the memorable France-FRG semi-final in Seville. In the second half, he grabbed the ball after a high shot from Michel Platini. Instead of giving it back, he hides it under his shirt; there were only one or two emergency balloons at the time. Just before the end of regular time, Manuel Amoros hit the crossbar. “If I had returned the ball, slightly deflated, perhaps he would have scored and we would have qualified“, he dwells without regret having repatriated the relic, which he will offer, a few years later, to Thierry Roland.
With the Blues on a South Korean beach
In 1986, it was in Mexico that “Domi” paraded her slender figure through crowded stadiums, to the rhythm of the new exploits of the band “Platoche”. He manages to approach him during a visit to a museum deep in the state of Guanajuato, filmed by local police escorting the Blues. After the third place match, he even manages to get on their bus. And he takes advantage of the opportunity to chat with his idol, Joël Bats; the connection between the goalkeepers works, Bats will offer him his shirt during the first post-World Cup match.
His closeness to the Blues fluctuates over time: a party shared on a South Korean beach, for his 40th birthday, with players on the verge of elimination in 2002; a deep scar when they fell apart in Knysna (South Africa), in 2010, when he had to rush back to France to bury his father … But what Dominique Garnier loves most is sharing peoples’ daily life hosts. Experience their enthusiasm, their desperation at times, like with the Brazilians in 2014, humiliated 1-7 by Germany. To enter Qatar, he had to take an official package. He expects to be thereparked among French people, so as not to meet locals“. “But I’ll try anywayassures.Football has always been an excuse to go on an adventure.»
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In four weeks, the French team may not have earned its third star, but it will be able to sew a tenth on the jersey of its memories.