Football Travel: AS Saint-Etienne

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The club perhaps best known for fielding Michel Platini is a big draw for football fans from across the globe. Euro 2016 venue Le Stade Geoffroy-Guichard was also the venue of that Michael Owen goal at France ’98.

 

L’Association Sportive Saint-Etienne Loire (ASSE) was formed in 1919, turning pro in 1933. ‘Les Verts’ (the Greens) are probably best known for the team of the 1970s, during which decade the club won four of its ten Ligue 1 titles, four of its six French cups, and lost the 1976 European Cup final to Bayern Munich. It was that most attractive Le Coq Sportif kit that is a king among retro shirts. I have one in my collection.

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 12.50.26That era saw the likes of Michel Platini, Dominique Rocheteau and the Revelli brothers gracing the Stade Geoffroay-Guichard, joined in the early 1980s by Patrick Battiston, who helped Les Verts win their last title in 1981. It’s been fairly barren since then.

 

Saint-Etienne is my team in France, chiefly because Platini was my favourite player growing up and also because the English band named after the team was a seminal cultural reference for my nineties teens.

 

The 42,000 capacity Stade Geoffroy-Guichard was the scene of England’s classic France ’98 second round encounter with Argentina, that of the Michael Owen wonder goal and Beckham’s kick on Diego Simeone. It’s a very British-style ground with four tight stands close to the pitch.

 

Unfortunately, I attended the ground when England laboured to a goalless with Slovakia at Euro 2016, when the Slovakians parked the proverbial bus.

 

The Stade Geoffroy-Guichard is a 30-40 minute walk from the station and there’s not a great deal to do or see in Saint-Etienne. It makes a great day trip from nearby Lyon, less than an hour’s train ride away.

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