How Lyon Had Become a True Football City

Published: 2017/11/29

Aulas and his Lyon Odyssey – Part I

 

Love him or hate him, Olympique Lyonnais president Jean-Michel Aulas is one of the most successful and influential figures in the French game.

The 68-year-old is celebrating 30 years as president of OL this season, and to mark the occasion we decided to take a look at how Monsieur Aulas transformed Lyon from second-division stragglers into the most dominant team in the land.

“You could sense Lyon had become a true football city,” Aulas tells The Ligue 1 Show on beIN Sports as he looks back on those early days.

“Every year, you just knew Lyon would be the best,” says Sonny Anderson, the Brazilian who went on to become a key player when the glory days began at the start of the last decade.

From what Aulas calls “the start of a beautiful adventure”, OL would go on to have a team, in his view, “capable of winning the Champions League.”

The part Aulas played is summed up by the prominent football writer Vincent Duluc, of sports daily L’Equipe, who calls him “the best president in French football history.”

For many years Lyon was best known for its gastronomy, and its beautiful landscapes. The inhabitants were seen as well-heeled people, for whom football was a working-class sport better practiced in neighbouring Saint-Etienne.

Founded in 1950, Olympique Lyonnais took time to truly capture the French public. Indeed it was only in 1987 when local businessman Aulas took charge of a club then floundering […]

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