Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Once Upon a Time....-Part 3 (Didier Six: The Misunderstood Footballing Nomad)

Didier Six: The Misunderstood Footballing Nomad

There are players in History who have been lucky to be at the right place (club) at the right time. Their presence in these crucial moments at these ideal locations helps propel their careers and win titles along the way.
Then there are others who struggled to find the right fit and become journeymen, bouncing from place to place in the hopes of finding the elusive location where everything will click.
1970s and 80s French winger Didier Six was such a case. A player with natural talent who seemed unable to land at the right club and when he did for various reasons these adventures were short lived.
Along the way he gained a reputation as a ‘difficult’ character that may have also hindered his career and dissuaded suitors.
His is a journey of ups and downs that begins at a time when a new Generation of French players was beginning to emerge that would go on and win France’s first ever International Trophy (the Euros in 1984).

Didier Six was born in Lille, in the North of France near the Belgian border, on August 21st, 1954.
His father had been a Stagiaire (Trainee) Professional and as a result he was “condemned to play Football” as he would say.
The Senior Six would soon encourage his son in the pursuit of making it in the game.
In fact, his Father would become his Manager-of-sorts and his handling of his son’s career would be fodder for Six’s antagonists.
As a youth Didier Six’s natural talent shone through and he stood out in various local youth selections such as ‘Cadets du Nord’, Scholastic Teams, Juniors and even the French Military Team.
At the Age of 10, he had signed for Iris de Lambersart. After one year, he joined US Calais in 1965 and stayed for three years. He returned for one more season at Iris de Lambersart (1968/69), followed by another season at US Bethune (1969/70).
In 1970 at the age of 16, he was signed by Union Sportive de Valenciennes (Northern Club near Lille).
He would become a Professional and stay there for the next seven years.
It was at Valenciennes that he would make his breakthrough and stand out in the First Division (1975/76).

Photo From: Onze, Issue 8, August 1976 
(Didier Six at Valenciennes, 1975/76)

His displays on the Left Wing drew the attention of the new French National Team boss Michel Hidalgo.
Hidalgo was preparing to build a team around a new wave of talented youngsters such as Nancy’s Michel Platini and Saint Etienne’s Dominique Rocheteau and Six was earmarked as one for the future with his skills as talented dribbler and crosser.
His main rival for the spot was Saint Etienne’s Christian Sarramagna, but Six would win Hidalgo’s trust.
Six bypassed the Under-21 squad and was selected for the full National Team upon Hidalgo’s arrival at the helm.
His International debut coincided with that of Michel Platini. While Platini started and scored in that first match at Parc des Princes (March 27, 1976, France 2-Czechoslovakia 2), Six had to contend to make his debut coming on from the bench with just less 10 minutes remaining replacing Gerard Soler.
Hidalgo gave him his first start in France’s next match on April 24th, 1976 vs. Poland. Six repaid Hidalgo’s trust by performing admirably and crossing and creating chance after chance.
He had amazed the crowd and observers throughout the match with his dribbling and crossing.
He went toe to toe with his direct rival Antoni Szymanowski and won his place in the National Team set-up. He assisted on Patrick Revelli’s goal in the 63rd minute en route to a (2-0) win.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 5, May 1976
(France squad, Didier Six is sitting, the first from the right side, April 24, 1976, France 2-Poland 0)

In June 1976, his growing reputation was enhanced when Romanian Manager (and former French national Team Manager) Stefan Kovacs asked him to play for a European Selection (managed by Kovacs) in Tournoi de Paris.
Six expressed his delight in lining up with the likes of Billy Bremner, Vladimir Petrovic and Wim van Hanegem.
It was also around this time that the offers came flooding in from home and abroad. Changing clubs and possible destinations would be a running theme for the rest of his career at a time when players seldom changed clubs in a frequent manner much less go abroad.
At the end of his breakthrough season (1975/76), Holland’s Ajax Amsterdam made an offer, as did Belgium’s Royal Antwerp.
However, Six (with his Father as an advisor) decided to stay one more year.
Despite his ascendancy, Six nevertheless had to contend with rivals for his position.
Rocheteau seemed set on the Right Wing, but Sarramagna, along with the likes of Nantes’ Loic Amisse and Olympique Marseille’s Albert Emon were breathing down his neck.
Despite the competition, Hidalgo would keep faith with Six for most of his tenure.
In the Fall of 1976, the 1978 World Cup Qualifiers started and like most French players of his Generation, he was ambitious to qualify and compete in the World Cup.
He participated in France’s first two qualifiers. The first one was away against Bulgaria at Sofia on October 9th, 1976 (2-2 tie). The next one was at home at Paris vs. Republic of Ireland (2-0 win) on November 17th, 1976.
He scored his first goal for his Nation in the New Year in an away Friendly vs. Switzerland (4-0) at Geneva on April 23trd, 1977.
He embarked on France’s Tour of South America in the Summer of 1977. He came on as a substitute for France’s first match vs. Argentina (scoreless tie) on June 26th, 1977 at Buenos Aires.
A few days later on June 30th vs. Brazil at Maracana, he started and was involved in one of France’s most memorable matches.
Brazil had taken a two-goal lead before France staged a comeback and leveled the score (2-2) and won over the crowd. Didier Six started France’s recovery by scoring with an excellent volley in the 52nd minute. It would remain one of his best and famous goals.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 19, July 1977
(Didier Six, June 30, 1977, Brazil 2-France 2)

At the conclusion of that season, he made the decision to move to a more ambitious club for the 1977/78 season. He had offers from Ajax (again) as well as PSV Eindhoven, Borussia Dortmund, Feyenoord.
He decided to join another Northern French club RC Lens.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 32, August 1978
(Didier Six at RC Lens, 1977/78)

Lens had achieved UEFA Cup qualification the previous season and Six felt this was the perfect venue to improve. He believed staying in France that season would be beneficial for his National Team career that seemed headed for the World Cup.
Unfortunately, it would be a dismal season with the only highlight Six scoring a hat trick in Lens’ (6-0) win over Lazio in the UEFA Cup on November 2, 1977.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 23, November 1977
(Didier Six scoring against Lazio, November 2, 1977, UEFA Cup, RC lens 6-Lazio 0)

Lens were relegated at the end of that season and he would be the scapegoat for this relegation (It would not be the only one). He would be labeled a difficult person to work with his father’s role in his affairs questioned.
He was described as a fragile player who constantly needed encouragement.
He was silent and shy off the field but completely the opposite on the field.
Many credited him from not shying away from defensive responsibilities.
However, his undiplomatic and blunt personality had earned him detractors in equal measure as his innate abilities had earned him admirers.
His only refuge that season was the National Team. Didier Six and France achieved World Cup Qualification (the first since 1966) on November 16th, 1977 at Paris by defeating Bulgaria (3-1).

Photo From: Onze, Hors Serie 6, 1977
(Didier Six, November 16, 1977, World Cup Qualifier, France 3-Bulgaria 1)

His better displays for the National Team further increased the press criticism of him that he was a player of big occasions but inconsistent in the League.
He faced criticism again from some circles when he declared that he was going to the World Cup to be ‘Number One’.  He would later explain that he had been misinterpreted and that he had meant that he would fight for his place.
France Manager Michel Hidalgo acknowledged the importance of Six iwhen he was unavailable for a Friendly vs. Italy on February 8th, 1978 at Naples (2-2 tie).
Hidalgo felt his absence had been detrimental for France in that match.
He scored his third goal for France in their preparatory Friendly vs. Iran on May 11th, 1978 (2-1 win).
He made the World Cup squad and started in France’s first match in the World Cup on June 2nd, 1978 vs. Italy at Mar del Plata.
Within the first minute, with a burst of speed he raced down on the left wing and crossed for Bernard Lacombe to head nn the opener for France. It was the fastest goal of that World Cup. Italy would score twice to win the match (2-1).
In their next match the French played the hosts Argentina at Buenos Aires on June 6th, 1978.  It was another (1-2) loss for France and early elimination. Six had been guilty of missing a good chance. There were some criticism of him as a result but in general he was considered one of the successes of the World Cup.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 30, June 1978
(Didier Six, June 6, 1978, Argentina 2-France 1)

His experience in the World Cup, according to him, made him aware of his potential. He gained more authority and saw that he should participate more and not be confined to the wing.
The standard criticisms of his alleged difficult personality continued. It was said that he was so hard to live with that he had even roomed alone at France’s World Cup headquarters at the ‘Hindu Club’.
In the press he was constantly described as pretentious, egotistical, antagonistic, individualistic, personally ambitious, etc.
He was also a Bohemian who allegedly had attended Jean-Michel Larque’s tribute match by hitchhiking.
That summer he changed clubs again as RC lens had been relegated. He joined the ambitious Olympique Marseille that at first seemed like a more of a club of his standing.
The press attacks against him had instilled a sense of paranoia around him. He had declared that he would have outright refused to join a club that had finished first the previous season, because in case of bad results he would once again be blamed for the misfortunes.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 32, August 1978
(Didier Six at Olympique Marseille, 1978/79)

The experience at Marseille also turned out to be a disappointing career move and the team struggled. The Marseille management would blame his inconsistency as well, in contrast to his better displays while wearing the French blue.
He was a regular with the National Team in his first season at OM (1978/79) and rewarded Hidalgo’s faith with goals vs. Sweden (September 1, 1978, EC Qualifier, home 2-2 tie, he considered it his best ever goal), as well as Luxembourg (October 7, 1978, EC Qualifier, 3-1 away win) and another beautiful goal in a Friendly vs. USA on May 2, 1979 (6-0 win) in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
One major incident would have more even negative repercussions on Didier Six. In February 1979, he crashed his car one late night after a National Team get together at St. Germain. There were many questions surrounding this accident and his role. There were some who even suggested he should be penalized from the National Team as a disciplinary measure.
For most of the year 1979, Loic Amisse would have the edge on the Left Wing.
Six would only appear once for the National team the following season (1979/80) due to his and his club’s poor form (a scoreless home tie in a Friendly vs. Holland at Paris on March 26, 1980). He had been so criticized that he was surprised that Hidalgo had chosen to select him for this match.
Off the field, he had found a passion for horse riding that he believed helped him relieve some of the stress.
This passion had been borne out of the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, where he had visited a nearby ranch many horses. 
Another hobby of him that he was known for was in collecting Antique Furniture from various locations in France.
Olympique Marseille were to be relegated that season (1979/80) and this further increased the negative image of Six that he is a player who ruins a club’s atmosphere and gets the team relegated. This was his second relegation after Lens in 1978.
After OM’s relegation, the search was on once more to find new employers.
Bernard Genestar, who managed Six’s affairs took charge of the matter and initially promised Hidalgo that Six would be staying in France.
Six believed his two years at OM had forged his character but unfortunately had worsened his reputation as well.
He was initially approached by Strasbourg but his negative reputation was his undoing. Six felt, the Manager Gilbert Gress did not particularly want him and the other Strasbourg players took the unprecedented step of signing a petition against his signing.
He believed Gress had inquired about him from the OM management and they had all badmouthed him.
In fact so bad was Six’s reputation that absolutely no other French Team made him an offer. He would later disclose that he was so fed up that he had even contemplated retirement.
At this point Genestar left Six and the player and his Father started listening to offers from abroad.
He had offers from Borussia Dortmund (where Udo Latteck had approached him with a contract in hand) and VfB Stuttgart but in the end signed for Belgian Club Cercle Brugge. He also took the precaution of including a clause in his contract making him available for International duty.
It was paramount for him to get away from France with all the negativity surrounding him and work in a calm and positive atmosphere.
It was the clean slate that he needed, for starters he did not have to deal with the pre-judging that he faced at French clubs.
At Brugge it all seemed to be going well. The Dutch manager Leo Canjels gave him more responsibilities and he was not just confined to the wing.  Six improved in tactical matters as a result and the League’s more physical play also strengthened him.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 58, October 1980
(Didier Six at Cercle Brugge, 1980/81)

Interesting to note that Didier Six’s grandfather was actually Belgian. It was his father who had opted for the French Nationality.  When Didier Six became an adult he had a choice between the two Nationalities and like his father chose France as well.
He was also touched that Michel Hidalgo still included him in the National Team and selected him at a time when it was rare for foreign-based players to be selected.
Six’s objective was another World Cup in 1982 in Spain and the qualifiers started that Fall. On October 11th, 1980 at Limassol, he scored in France’s away (7-0) win (a rare header).
He seemed settled and happy at Brugge, but bad luck would once again derail a career that for once had seemed stable.
The Financial Group that had signed Six and were responsible for his salary were unable to pay him, as a result he was forced to leave by November 1980.
This once again gave affirmation to the narrative that he was unstable, but it was just bad luck according to him.
Once again he had offers from Ajax and PSV Eindhoven but chose to go back to France.
He was once again approached by Strasbourg. By now, Gilbert Gress was no longer managing the team as he had left in September 1980 and replaced with Raymond Hild.
Hild was warm to Six’s inclusion and a deal was reached.
Strasbourg’s Roland Wagner had been severely injured, so Strasbourg received a dispensation from the League to sign a new striker.
Six signed for seven months (Free on June 30, 1981) and already was eyeing a summer move to Bundesliga’s VfB Stuttgart

Photo From: France Football, Issue 1808, December 2, 1980 
(Drawn by Dero)
Explanation: This cartoon references the fact that France’s Didier Six kept changing clubs.
It shows him checking in to a hotel at Strasbourg (his new club). He is shown carrying a suitcase referencing some of the other clubs he had played up to that point.
The receptionist asks him ‘will you stay long or are you just passing through?’


He moved into the Argentine goleador Carlos Bianchi’s old apartment in Strasbourg. His half season at Strasbourg would be satisfactory and the Team would improve
His brief stay at Strasbourg would make him attached to the region and he would purchase property there. For the following years there would always be speculation about a transfer to Strasbourg at various stages. He wanted the property to settle in the future with his family. He would openly credit his stable family life (in contrast to his career) for his happiness. His wife Dominique and Daughters Elodie and Emilie were the source of his joy and stability.

Photo From: Mondial, New series, issue 10, January 1981 
(Didier Six at Strasbourg, 1980/81)

At the end of the season, Strasbourg Management wanted him very much to stay but his mind had been made up for some time and he and his wife had been learning German with the move to Stuttgart in mind.
As far as the National Team, in the Spring 1981, Six and the French lost a crucial qualifier in Rotterdam to Holland (March 25, 1981, 0-1 loss) but bounced back with an important qualifying win at Paris vs. Belgium on April 29, 1981 (3-2 win) where Six scored one of the goals. The season ended on a somewhat negative note with the National Team in a Friendly vs. Brazil on May 15, 1981. Despite a positive individual display and a goal from him, the French were defeated (1-3) and Six was sent off in the last minute for the first time with his Nation.
At the end of the season, he made his ambitious move to Stuttgart to team up with Hansi Muller and the Foerster brothers under the management of the well-respected Jurgen Sundermann. He signed for 2 years with an option to renew and settled in the old home of former International Georg Volkert.
In The Bundesliga, Six would be impressed mostly with the discipline (on and off the pitch) and organization (where everyone was at the service of the collective).
Many felt he would not adapt to such surroundings but he actually settled in well with many goals. He had a slight dip around the time when the French National was somewhat under stress to qualify for the World Cup.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 75, March 1982
(Didier Six at VfB Stuttgart, 1981/82)

France had not done themselves any favors by losing vs. Belgium on September 9, 1981 (0-2).
In addition, Didier Six now had a genuine challenger for his spot on the Left Wing, The young Bruno Bellone of AS Monaco was emerging and started ahead of Six for France’s next qualifier vs. Republic of Ireland at Dublin on October 14, 1981. Bellone scored to further increase the pressure on Six, but the French lost (2-3). It was all left for a crucial qualifier vs. Holland at Paris on November 18, 1981. Hidalgo chose to go ahead with the more experienced Six for that match and was rewarded when Six scored France’s second goal in their win (2-0) that helped them qualify for the World Cup in Spain.
After regaining his form with Stuttgart he would participate in his second World Cup.
He would score goals in two matches (vs. Kuwait (4-1) on June 21, 1982 and Czechoslovakia on June 24, 1982 (1-1) tie).

Photo From: Onze, Issue 101, May 1984 
(Didier Six, June 21, 1982, World Cup, France 4-Kuwait 1)

However, his World Cup would be remembered for missing a penalty kick in the epic shoot-out vs. West Germany on July 8th, 1982 in Seville (3-3 tie).
He was take the kick right after Stilieke had missed his for the Germans and by missing his, he let the Germans back in with an opprtunity, which they took.
After the Tournament, he avoided the media. He felt some of the criticism of him had been unjust. He felt there also a press campaign to lobby for Bellone. He believed instead of talking about Bellone’s strengths the media would instead focus on his (Six’s) weaknesses.

Photo From: L’Equipe, L’Equipe de France de Football, la Belle Histoire
(Didier Six missing his penalty kick attempt, July 8, 1982, World Cup, West Germany 3-France 3)

He was especially hurt when a journalist (from ‘Nouvel Observateur’) remarked that he had missed his penalty kick as a favor for his West German employers (VfB Stuttgart).
He concentrated on his club Football at Stuttgart under a new Manager Helmut Benthaus. His time at Stuttgart had been positive and had got on well with the Foerster brothers. He was delighted when the prestigious ‘Kicker Sportsmagazin’ named him Bundesliga’s best Foreign player.
The close proximity to France helped him with any issues of homesickness (only one and half hours driving to Strasbourg).
He also took the time to launch a line of Sportswear at Strasbourg.
His International appearances for France lessened, though he captained his Nation at the end of the season in a (1-1 tie) vs. Belgium on May 31, 1983.

Photo From: Mondial, new series, issue 55, October 1984  (2)
(Didier Six captaining France, May 31, 1983, Luxembourg Federation-75th Anniversary , France 1-Belgium 1)

At the end of his second season, Stuttgart chose not to renew his contract.
He had offers from other Bundesliga clubs such as Borussia Dortmund (once again) and Fortuna Dusseldorf, as well as Bordeaux and Strasbourg.
For personal reasons, he wanted to be in the Alsace region that he had grown fond of so that his wife and children (for scholastic reasons) would settle easier.
He already had his property in nearby Strasbourg.
His preferred move to Strasbourg did not materialize as they were unable to buy out the remaining year of his contract.
Surprisingly he chose the Alsace club Mulhouse in the Second Division for reasons that he would refuse to disclose.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 101, May 1984 
(Didier Six at Mulhouse, 1983/84)


Six’s history with Mulhouse President Andre Goeirg went back a few years.
In 1979, to inaugurate Mulhouse’s stadium ‘Stade de l’Ill’, Goerig had arranged a match between a French XI and a Brazilian Amateur Selection on Tour. Six was on vacation in Morocco at the time, but left his family momentarily and joined Goerig for the match after he called him. Andre Goeirg was touched by Six’s action.
The Financial Situation at Brugge in 1980 (where they had been unable to pay him) had forced Six to close a business he was running with his father. Six was in financial mess and it was Goerig who came to help him to arrange for his midseason transfer to Strasbourg in late 1980.
Goerig had wanted to sign Six to get back to the First Division as quickly as possible.
At Mulhouse, his Manager Gerard Banide appointed him Team Captain.
Afterwards he voluntarily renounced the captaincy, as he was not making headway with his demands and expectations from the club and teammates.
After only a few months, Six’s stay at Mulhouse also became problematic.
When Six had signed he believed he was a free agent after two years at Stuttgart.
It turned out his signing was not free and Mulhouse still owed Stuttgart 1.2 Million French Francs.
By December, Andre Goerig needed to sell Six for these budgetary reasons.
Goerig set a buy-put clause of 2 Million FF to be able to make a profit.
Mulhouse received offers from New York Cosmos, Watford, SV Hamburg, Borussia Dortmund (again!!), but the player wanted to remain.
By now his stint in the Second Division had distanced him from the National Team reckoning and Bruno Bellone was ahead in the pecking order.
Afterwards Six stated that he did not believe signing for a Second Division would have jeopardized his place in the National Team, but as the season wore on he realized his mistake.
Six got back on the International radar unexpectedly in the New Year (1984) when Mulhouse played First Division powers Bordeaux (3 goals vs. the League Champions that Season), Nantes and Paris St. Germain in the French Cup. Michel Hidalgo took notice of Six’s impressive performances in those encounters and recalled him to the National Team. He was included in the 1984 Euros Finals squad on home soil.
Six did not start on the Tournament opener vs. Denmark on June 12th, 1984; it was his direct rival Bruno Bellone who got the mod.
Six was lined up for France’s next matches on June 16th vs. Belgium (5-0) at Nantes and June 19th vs. Yugoslavia (3-2) at Saint Etienne.
Hidalgo chose to start with him in the Semifinal vs. Portugal on June 23rd at Marseille. This epic encounter that France won in the overtime (3-2) would turn out to be his last Match for France. He was substituted in 101st minute by Bruno Bellone with France trailing (1-2). The French eventually triumphed, by winning with a score of (3-2).


Photo From: Mondial, new series, issue 55, October 1984 
(Didier Six during his last match ever for France, June 23, 1984, UEFA European Championships, France 3-Portugal 2)


Photo From: Onze, Hors Serie 21, 1984
(France squad, Didier Six is sitting, the first from the right side, June 23, 1984, UEFA European Championships, France 3-Portugal 2)

He was disappointed not to get picked for the Final on June 27th vs. Spain in Paris, as Hidalgo chose to start with Bellone.
He nevertheless was part of the victorious French side that won these Euros by defeating the Spanish (2-0).
Six’s account with the National Team ended after 8 years with 52 caps and 13 goals.
Once the Euros ended, there was the impending matter of his contract resolution with Mulhouse who needed to sell him.
The issue had driven a wedge between himself and Andre Goerig as each side believed the other was using him to leverage more money.
Once again he was linked with Strasbourg who had appointed his old Stuttgart Manager Jurgen Sundermann. The proposed deal would have included two Strasbourg players going in the opposite direction: Vincent Cobos and Jacques Glassmann (yes the one from OM/Valenciennes scandal of 1993).
Strasbourg officially renounced their interest on July 17th, as they could not financially afford the deal.
OGC Nice also made inquiries but backed off as well. RC Lens Manager Gerard Houllier was also opposed to his arrival.
Once again a solution abroad was the best solution since no one in France could afford him (nor wanted him).
There were some newspaper rumors from interests from Italian clubs but no concrete offers.
He could have returned to West Germany but did not want to live far from Stuttgart. Karlsruhe were initially interested but that deal was called off. Eintracht Braunschweig also showed interest, but it was too far from Stuttgart.
At Mulhouse, Raymond Domenech had been appointed as Manager in his very first Managerial post. Since Six seemed headed for the exit he refused to have him train with the first team. Instead Six was forced to train with the reserve team (Third Division squad).
With the new season (1984/85) underway Six still had no club to play with.
Finally in late September-early October, Graham Turner, the Manager of English Club Aston Villa convinced him to join them (after an approach from Borussia Moenchengladbach had been called off).
He still had an ambition to play for France until the 1986 World Cup and desperately needed first team action.

Photo From: Mondial, new series, issue 56, November  1984
(Didier Six at Aston Villa, 1984/85)

Aston Villa winger Tony Morley had left and joined West Bromwich Albion and Six was signed to fill the gap to supply crosses for giant striker Peter White. He impressed on his debut (after missing more than 3 months of competition) on October 6th vs. Manchester United by giving a hard time to his direct rival, Mike Duxburry. He supplied a cross for White to score Villa’s first goal in a (3-0) win. He had made a good early impression but Villa’s performances would level out.
At the conclusion of the season, Aston Villa wanted to retain him but Six wanted to return to France. He believed playing in France would increase his chances to be selected for the National Team for the 1986 World Cup.
He was still legally bound to Mulhouse and Andre Goerig was open to his departure but with the condition that the buying would have to include a player of their own in the transaction. Six personally wanted to join the ambitious Paris St. Germain. West German club Bayer Uerdingen made an offer as did a number of Greek and Turkish clubs.

In the end he joined Lorraine side FC Metz for the new season (1985/86) who were also involved in the UEFA Cup. The season and his performances did not go as planned (with only a handful of goals scored) and his National Team ambitions did not materialize.

Photo From: Onze, Issue 117, September 1985
(Didier Six at FC Metz, 1985/86)

A new season (1986/87) and another move, this time to his desired location of Strasbourg (though in the Second Division).
This adventure also ended quickly as Strasbourg could not afford his wages and broke the contract within a few months. Two months after the annulment of his contract he personally approached and joined his first club US Valenciennes.


Photo From: Onze, Hors serie 29, 1986
(Didier Six back at Strasbourg, 1986/87, He is in the middle row, standing, the fourth from the right side)

Photo From: Mondial, new series, Issue 86, May 1987
(Didier Six back at Valenciennes, 1987)

The objective was to maintain the Team in the Second Division for the 1986/87 season.
At the end of the season he made yet another unconventional move by joining Turkey’s Galatasaray for the 1987/88 season.
He even took Turkish Citizenship to free space for Foreign players and was named D√ľndar Siz. He won the League title at the end of the season with his new club.

Photo From: Mondial, new series, issue 102, September 1988
(Didier Six at Galatasaray, 1987/88)

Midway through the next season (early 1989) Six (now aged 34) joined Stade de Vallauris in France’s Third Division . He could have returned to Valenciennes, but because of his reputation some at the club were opposed.
The following season (1989/90), he joined another Third Division side Vauban Strasbourg. After a break he wound down his career at Germany’s VfB Leipzig (1991/92) with his former Stuttgart Manager Jurgen Sundermann at the helm.
His Managerial career since has been sporadic and uneventful. His initial experience as a Manager was leading a Strasbourg Amateur side FCSK 06 during the (1997/98) season. He then managed another Amateur side JS Audun le Tiche (2004/05). After another break, on November 2011, he was named as the National Team Manager of Togo. After a couple of years in 2015 he was named as National Team Manager of the island nation of Mauritius, but only stayed a few months before being fired. He was recently contacted by Libya to be their National Team Manager.
His recent Managerial experiences resemble his playing career.
When he started out he was considered as one of the most talented players of his Generation.
No one denied his talent and ability (though many felt he was weak in headers).
He felt he was misunderstood by the public, being loved and hated in equal measure.
He was inconsistent but on his day could turn a match around.
He was a man of contrasts. He was always seemingly unsettled at various locations yet was a stable in his family life with his wife and two daughters.
He was a man born in the North but who found a deep attachment to Alsace.
His consistent supporter appears to have been the National Team Manager Michel Hidalgo who always saw the best in him. Perhaps another Manager would have dispensed with him long before.
Apart from Hidalgo he had a fondness for Jurgen Sunderamnn from his Stuttgart days, as well as Banide and Benthaus.
He believed his reputation, as a troublemaker was false and unjustified.
He felt he had been unlucky with the special circumstances at his clubs, not troublesome.
He would point out to journalists to ask his former employers such as Cercle Brugge, Stuttgart and Aston Villa to vouch for his attitude.
His main regret was signing for Olympqiue Marseille right before the 1978 World Cup, because afterwards he received many better offers.
Needless to say his penalty kick miss vs. West Germany in 1982 also ranked as one of the biggest disappointments of his playing career.
Otherwise he did not have regrets about changing so many clubs, he believed he had learned so much at all those different locations.
He felt hard done by the press scrutiny on his father’s role.  His father was depicted as a negative influence who decided everything for his son.
Six believed he owed a lot to him, but acknowledged that his father may not have known all the ins and outs of Professional Football and the Journalists seized upon this to create a false narrative.
His Family life was the proof that he was a balanced individual and not the caricature depicted in the press.
Six felt that Football had made him a man. He had achieved glory, fame and money that his family could enjoy.

It is possible to think that in a more stable environment(s) he would have had a career similar to his contemporaries Platini and Rocheteau.
By today’s standards, changing so many clubs in a career would appear normal, but back then just to make the leap to transfer abroad was a big and unpredictable step.
His independent spirit perhaps got him in trouble in a team sport where he was supposed to conform.
Perhaps he lived in a Nation at a time where his type of frankness and independence was frowned upon.

Who’s to say if he really was a difficult man? Perhaps the truth is somewhere in the middle.

1 comment: