Sunday’s French Ligue 1 meeting between Lyon and Marseille ended in a 1-1 draw that did little for either side, leaving them ninth and eight respectively in the table after 22 games. Nor was it a result that brought much joy to the clubs’ supporters, except perhaps for French swimmer Florent Manaudou. Born on the outskirts of Lyon but an adopted son of Marseille, the reigning world and Olympic 50m freestyle champion and world record holder at the same distance had good reason to be content with the stalemate.
“I was born in a suburb of Lyon and I grew up at a time when Olympique Lyonnais were winning everything. They’re the club I support,” replied the Villeurbanne-born star.
He then added: “Having said that, I live in Marseille now and I love the city. It took me to its heart pretty quickly. I’m very, very grateful to the place. L’OM have a great history and a wonderful stadium, and it’s been an honour for me to go there and do the pre-match kick-off a few times. And I’m also proud to have been named the city’s ambassador for EURO 2016.”
It was in Marseille that France began their victorious campaign at the 1998 FIFA World Cup France™, where they beat South Africa 3-0 before a vibrant capacity crowd at the Stade Velodrome. The 25-year-old swimmer remembers the tournament well: “France’s win in the 98 World Cup is my happiest memory when it comes to football,” he recalled. “I was only a child but I remember it as if it were yesterday. That was when I really began to get excited about French sport in general.”