Tributes pour in for Metsu

The former French footballer and Senegal coach Bruno Metsu, known also as the "White Sorcerer", has died of cancer at the age of 59.


Bruno Metsu was remembered as a lionheart after the coach who masterminded one of the World Cup's greatest upsets died at the age of 59.

Having been diagnosed with terminal cancer in October 2012, Metsu was given three months to live. He managed almost a full year before losing what France's sports minister Valerie Fourneyron called "his final battle" on Monday night.

Metsu, the Frenchman with both feet in the opposition camp, left millions of his countrymen and women shattered on May 31, 2002, when reigning world champions France slumped 1-0 to his unfancied Senegal team in the opening match of the World Cup.

The loss in Seoul set France on course for a dismal group-stage exit, while Senegal - the so-called Lions of Teranga - were spurred on a run to the quarter-finals, where they bowed out to Turkey, the joint best performance ever by an African side in World Cup finals history.

"I am not the best coach in the world but after this perhaps I am not too bad," said Metsu that night.

"I am truly happy with this, it was a great victory and an important result."

Metsu died at home in Dunkirk on Monday night, having long been forgiven by the French for inflicting that painful defeat.

Claude Le Roy, a fellow wandering Frenchman who has coached Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana, was taken aback by news of Metsu's death.

Le Roy said: "I'm in shock. He fought like a lion.

"We had lots in common. It's terrible for him, for (his wife) Viviane and the children. It's them I'm thinking of above all.

"I remember a magnificent smile and his joie de vivre."

Metsu had three young children with Viviane.

Instantly recognisable at the height of his career by his long mane of hair and sharp suits, Metsu would not hit the heights of Seoul again, but those who shared in the glory days were eager to pay tribute on Tuesday.

Khalilou Fadiga, the former Auxerre and Bolton winger, wrote on Twitter: "My brother, my friend, the man who was part of and who brought up the 2002 generation. I don't have the words. Rest in peace, my Bruno."

Striker Souleymane Camara told "More than a coach, he was a big brother to us. What I liked about him above all was that when we needed to work, we worked, but when we needed to have fun, we had fun too."

After his feat with Senegal, Metsu spent the rest of his coaching career in the Middle East, taking charge of several club sides including Al Ain and Al Ittihad plus the United Arab Emirates and Qatar national teams.

In July 2012 he became coach of Al Wasl, replacing Diego Maradona, but resigned in October of the same year due to his ill health.

Before his time with Senegal, Metsu had a moderately successful playing career, taking in a spell in Belgium with Anderlecht, and 13 years of coaching experience with clubs including Lille and Sedan.

Lyon striker Bafetimbi Gomis, who had the option of playing for Senegal before choosing France, was also sorry to hear of Metsu's death.

"A big thought for the family of Bruno Metsu," Gomis wrote on Twitter. "A great man and a great coach has left us."

Fourneyron called to mind Metsu's ebullient nature as she paid tribute.

She said: "For this man of the north, the tenacity and strength of character in adversity took the place of the rulebook. He lost his final battle but will remain, in the memory of all fans of football, a person who never gave up, this indefatigable globe-trotter of the round ball who always pushed others to go beyond their limits."

Macky Sall, president of Senegal, saluted the impact Metsu made in his two-year spell as national team coach.

President Sall wrote on Twitter: "It is with great sadness that I have learned of the death of Bruno Metsu.

"Having met him some weeks ago in Doha, I remember him as a Senegalese at heart and a great leader of men.

"Bruno Metsu wrote with Senegal the most beautiful pages in the history of its football."

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