Smells Like Team Spirit

I love football and I always will.

It reminds me the sheer and immaculate joy of afternoons spent playing footy with my friends when I was a 10 years old kid.

The smell of grass and the smell of the football leather ; the games that last three or four hours until we’re about to collapse craving for food, water, breath, energy ; the superhuman effort after 3 hours of non-stop game to do the tackle that prevent a goal from being scored or a run along the touchline to provide a cross ; the joy of making an assist or scoring a goal.

Playing music in a band or completing a team project in time and budget provide similar, yet not as intense, satisfaction.


Until I saw a game of Arsenal against Paris Saint-Germain in 1994 in European cup and fell in love with Iain Wright, I didn’t really support a club. FC Nantes 1994-1995 was an unbelievable team (Pedros, Ouedec, N’Doram, Ouedec, Loko, Makelele, Karembeu … and the best french coach ever : JC Suaudeau) but it didn’t last.

So I have the national football team. It started in November 77 and the game France won against Bulgaria 3-1 (Rocheteau, Platini, Dalger) which qualified us to the Argentinian World Cup.

South Africa 2010

I love this world cup eventhough for the first time in my life I hoped France lose so that the embarrassment is over. Just as the 98/2000 team was an illustration of the best sides  of France (culture mix, style, exuberance, hard work), the 2010 version was an illustration of our worst cultural sides (politics, disrespect, complacency, selfishness, rights before duties).

The reason I love this world cup : the star are the teams. Forget about Messi, Ronaldo, Rooney, Ribery, Kaka. We haven’t seen anything from them. Forget about Maradona, an immense football player but a poor technician as a coach. (Okay, we still have Diego Forlan who has been mercurial so far).

On the other hand, enter Xavi, Schweinsteiger, Iniesta, Podolski, Müller. These guys they would rather stay in anonymity and provide an assist than trying to score on their own and take the risk their team don’t score.

Spain and Germany have been my favorite teams. The passing and movement in Spanish team has been second to none in world football in the last 2 years. This is almost a religion. One touch and a pass then move to make yourself available to get the ball again. Note that the fluidity and speed of spanish football comme from one principle : don’t give the ball to a player that is not in motion. Ronaldo wouldn’t fit into that team.

I loved every single game of Germany because of the enthusiasm and the obvious joy and togetherness that this team exhale. This reminds me my kid days.

Full credit to Joachim Lowe (picture above) and Vincente Del Bosque for being able to bring so much out of their lads. Their teams are magnificent. May the best win the semi-final.

Forget about the stars, put the team first : this is a genuine management lesson.


  1. I hate the way Germans play football. I’ve always have. If they are so great, how come they didnt show it today?

    Go Spain (although I am partial to Netherlands).

  2. Hey, I’m french do you recall the way they beat us in the semi-finals in 82 and 86 ?

    Still, THIS german team has been producing the best football of the world cup.

    Lucky for Spain Muller didn’t play. Spain will still make a great World Cup Winner.

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