Football Club de Nantes (Breton: Naoned; Gallo: Naunnt), commonly referred to as FC Nantes or simply Nantes (IPA: [nɑ̃t] (listen)), is a French professional football club based in Nantes in Pays de la Loire. The club was founded on 21 April 1943, during World War II, as a result of local clubs based in the city coming together to form one large club. From 1992 to 2007, the club was referred to as FC Nantes Atlantique before reverting to its current name at the start of the 2007–08 season. Nantes play in Ligue 1, the first division of Football in France. Nantes is one of the most successful clubs in French football, having won eight Ligue 1 titles, four Coupe de France wins and attained one Coupe de la Ligue victory.
|Full name||Football Club de Nantes|
|Nickname(s)||La Maison Jaune (The Yellow House)|
Les Canaris (The Canaries)
|Short name||FCN or Nantes|
|Founded||21 April 1943|
|Ground||Stade de la Beaujoire|
|Head coach||Antoine Kombouaré|
|2021–22||Ligue 1, 9th of 20|
The club is famous for its jeu à la nantaise ("Nantes-style play"), its collective spirit, mainly advocated under coaches José Arribas, Jean-Claude Suaudeau and Raynald Denoueix and for its youth system, which has produced players such as Marcel Desailly, Didier Deschamps, Mickaël Landreau, Claude Makélélé, Christian Karembeu and Jérémy Toulalan. As well as Les Canaris (The Canaries), Nantes is also nicknamed Les jaunes et verts (The Green and Yellows) and La Maison Jaune (The Yellow House).
The club was founded in 1943. The first match played by Nantes as a professional team took place at the Stade Olympique de Colombes against CA Paris, where Nantes triumphed 2–0. The first home match was a defeat of the same score against Troyes. The club finished fifth at the end of this first season following which the club's manager Aimé Nuic left the club following a dispute, and was succeeded by Antoine Raab, who took over in a player-coach role. After winning 16 consecutive matches, Nantes lost 9–0 to Sochaux.
The club became a professional football club in 1945 after winning the Western Region championship, and started that season in the second division. Under historic president Marcel Saupin, it spent a few years as a mid-table club in that division, with even threat of relegation in 1950, avoided on the last game only.
Results improved from 1951 onwards, and the club just missed out on promotion in 1952, finishing 4th, under respected coach Emile Veinante. His successor Antoine Raab was able to recruit more prestigious players, including Dutch stars Gerrit Vreken and Jan van Geen, but despite this, the club stagnated again. A number of coaches followed, but the club did not progress, and promising early starts to seasons often petered out by their ends.
In 1960, president Marcel Saupin selected the young and promising amateur coach José Arribas. He was credited with revolutionising the team's game, insisting on team-based, less individual play, and an attack-oriented game. He set up a 4-2-4 instead of the then traditional 4 banks of players. His system showed promise but results were not forthcoming right away: placings read 11th, 6th in his first 2 seasons, and finally 2nd in 1962, having led the second division for the first half of the season. In that time, the club took part in the short-lived Anglo-French-Scottish cup, losing 71 to Liverpool FC.
Life in the top division - the José Arribas years (1963 to 1976)Edit
José Arribas and Nantes found their place in the top division right away and finished 8th in their first season. The following season was even better: the club becomes French champions, and their star striker Jacky Simon was the league's top goalscorer and became the first Nantes player to earn an international cap. The club also won the French League Cup.
In 1965, the club confirmed its place at the top and won the league again. Best defence (36 goals conceded), best attack (84 goals scored), Philippe Gondet ended the season as the league's top goalscorer with 36 goals in 37 games. French success did not lead to European success however, and Nantes lost their first-round European Cup game to Partizan Belgrade, who went on to reach the final. At the end of that season, three Nantes players (De Michèle, Gondet and Budzynski) wre part of the French team playing the World Cup in England.
The late 60s and early 70s were not stellar years for the club, typically ending between the 10th and 7th place in the league. They made the French Cup final in 1970 but were routed by Saint-Etienne 5-0. Coach José Arribas's place was not under threat however, being very popular with players and fans alike. In parallel, the club worked hard behind the scene to modernise its structures and to develop its recruitment and player academy. Ex-players Jean-Claude Suaudeau and Robert Budzynski joined the coaching and recruitment team, and were tasked with deploying the club's playing philosophy at all levels of the club's teams. Young players such as Patrice Rio, allied with experienced Argentinians Ángel Marcos and Hugo Bargas, as well as Bayern Munich star Erich Maas enabled the club to turn its fortunes around and win the league in 1973. They also made the French Cup final but lost to Lyon.
The club however could not break its European jinx: Danish amateur club Vejle eliminated Nantes in the first round of the European Cup. Results in the French league are good, although below that of high-flying club AS Saint-Etienne, but European results disappointed, year after year. In 1976, the club and José Arribas finally decided to part ways after 13 years together.
'Jean Vincent and Jean-Claude Suaudeau (1976 to 1988)Edit
New coach Jean Vincent was tasked with bringing more success in cups, both domestic and European. He started by reshuffling the team, putting aside a few stars and starting young academy players such as Loic Amisse, Eric Pécout and Bruno Baronchelli. The team still used a very watchable system of play and won the league in 1977, for the fourth time in its history. In 1978, the team finished second behind Monaco but European disappointments continued. That year, the club opened its start-of-the-art training complex La Jonelière (since renamed José Arribas Sporting Centre), the most advanced in France at the time.
In 1979, Jean-Claude Suaudeau was promoted to assistant manager, and this association saw the club thrive, winning its first French Cup in 1979, while finishing 2nd in the league. And finally in Europe, the club enjoyed some success, reaching the semi-finals of the Cup Winners Cup competition where they lost to Spanish club Valencia. With Argentinian star player Enzo Trossero, and young up-and-coming academy players José Touré and William Ayache, the club remained 92 games unbeaten at home.
Jean Vincent left the club in 1981, struggling to fit his new star striker, Yugoslav Vahid Halilhodzic, into Nantes system of play. Suaudeau took the reins by himself. He benefited from a star-studded defense, with French international goalkeeper Jean-Paul Bertrand-Demanes, centre-backs Patrice Rio and Maxime Bossis, and full backs Michel Bibard, Thierry Tusseau and William Ayache; Bruno Baronchelli still pulls the strings in midfield, helped by academy youngster Seth Adonkor protecting the defence; winger Loic Amisse enjoyed a purple patch in his twilight years; strikers José Touré (nicknamed 'the Brazilian') and particularly Vahid Halilhodzic enjoyed a great partnership. In their new La Beaujoire stadium, built for the 1984 Euro competition, Nantes won the title in 1983, and missed out on the double when they lost the French Cup final to Paris Saint-Germain.
Several other French clubs then increased their budgets significantly, and Nantes could not compete. The club lost Thierry Tusseau to Bordeaux, William Ayache to PSG and Maxime Bossis to Matra Racing. Nantes were still among the premier clubs in France, attracting players such as Jorge Burruchaga (World Cup winner with Argentina in 1986), and managed to finish 6th in 1984, 2nd in 1985 and 2nd again in 1986. Other expensive recruits such as Maurice Johnston and Eddie Vercauteren did not gel and the results gradually declined. The constant influx of talented academy players such as Didier Deschamps and Marcel Desailly was not quite enough to compensate the departures and progress made by other clubs. The club finished 12th in 1987 and 10th in 1988.
Crisis and renaissance (1988 to 2004)Edit
Suaudeau was then let go and the Croatian coach Miroslav Blazevic takes his place. The club however experienced financial difficulties (and was even nearly demoted in 1992), and had to rely almost exclusively on its young academy players to survive in the top division. The club became a "feeder club", selling its best young players to richer clubs: Deschamps and Yvon Le Roux to Olympique Marseille, Michel Der Zakarian to Montpellier, Antoine Kombouaré to Toulon, and Vincent Bracigliano to Nimes.
In July 1991, the club re-appointed Jean-Claude Suaudeau, and in July 1992, after spending a fortnight in the second division due to an administrative decision by the DNCG (French Football's financial regulator), FC Nantes was renamed FC Nantes Atlantique, and was able to take its place in the first division back. Working closely with youth coach Raynald Denoueix, Suaudeau reinstated the "Nantes way of play" and, despite Marcel Desailly's departure to Marseille, stabilised the team. Soon the club could again show its trademark quick game with instant passing. The academy provided players who could mix the physical with the technical, particularly those such as Christian Karembeu, Patrice Loko, Claude Makélélé and Nicolas Ouédec. Midfield maestros Japhet N'Doram and Raynald Pedros delighted crowds all over France. The team reached the French Cup final in 1993 (losing to PSG) before winning the French league in 1995. Nantes registered ten 3–0 wins at home that season. In 1995–96 Nantes reached the semi-finals of the European Cup, coming close to eliminating Juventus after a superb performance in the return leg at home.
However, Nantes continued to sell its best players, with Karembeu and Loko sold in 1995 and Ouédec, N'Doram, Makélélé, Benoit Cauet and goalkeeper David Marraud sold in the following two years. In 1997, frustrated by this, Suaudeau left the club and Denoueix took charge. The academy cane to the rescue once again, and nimble, technical, players such as Stéphane Ziani, Olivier Monterrubio, Eric Carrière, Mikael Landreau and Frédéric Da Rocha enabled the club to win two French Cups in a row (1999 and 2000) before winning the league in 2001. Denoueix's departure for Real Sociedad impacted the club somewhat, but Nantes still managed a French Cup semi-final, a League Cup final and 6th place in the league in 2004 under coaches Angel Marcos Loic Amisse.
Down and out (2005 to 2013)Edit
Nantes' style of play, however, gradually faded away and the club adopted a game more geared to survival, unable to compete with better resourced and better run clubs such as PSG, Marseille, Lyon and Monaco. Short periods and foreign recruits dif6not seem to work out. After a few difficult seasons, the club finally finished dead last in the league in 2007 and was relegated, triggering a pitch invasion and protests by fans. 44 consecutive seasons in the top division came to an end.
In the summer of 2007 summer the club was sold to business Waldemar Kita. Initially this did not correspond to a more stable period for the club, which went through players and coaches at an alarming rate. While the club had only five managers between 1960 and 2000, in the decade 2000 to 2010 ten were employed and sacked. The club was promoted back to the top division in 2008, only to be relegated again the next season. The next season proved disastrous for the club, ending in 15th place in Ligue 2 under the management of three different coaches. The next two seasons were not much better, despite a few ex-players getting involved, and Nantes was lucky not to be relegated to the third tier in 2011.
Back to the top (2013 to present)Edit
Ex-player Michel Der Zakarian took the helm in 2012 and the results immediately improved. Nantes led the league at Christmas ("Champions d'Automne") and stayed the course in 2013, with Filip Đorđević's 20 goals contributing to promotion back to Ligue 1. The club celebrated its 70 years in existence and for the first time in years, sold out the stadium several times. The 2013–14 season started very well for the club, winning at Bordeaux, Rennes and Marseille, and getting to the semi-finals of the league cup. Results declined, however, in 2014 and the club ended the season in 13th position, after three points were docked for an administrative mishap. Nantes claimed the 6th biggest attendance at their stadium. The next season followed a similar pattern, with the club 7th at Christmas but 14th at the season end. After losing most of the players who got the club back into Ligue 1 (including AS Roma star Jordan Veretout), Der Zakarian recruited well and manages a series of 14 matches starting November 2015. Despite this, the end of the season did not yield any good results and the club once again finishes 14th. Tensions between coach Der Zakarian and owner Waldemar Kita culminated in the coach's resignation in April 2016. The Der Zakarian era saw Nantes play with a tight defense and scoring on the counter-attack. This was not the club's trademark pleasing play, however he achieved from Ligue 2 and kept it in Ligue 1 for three seasons, with a competent and disciplined team.
René Girard lasted 15 games before getting sacked; Sergio Conceição improved fortunes, leading the club to a creditable 7th place, but family reasons called him back to Portugal. Claudio Ranieri, fresh from winning the English title with Leicester City, started 2017–18 with two defeats but results improved and the club was 3rd after 10 games. As with Der Zakarian, defence is key and Ranieri is 5th at Christmas. But, in what was becoming Nantes habit, the 2nd part of the season is much more complicated and Nantes only finished 9th, outside of European places.
Ranieri leaves, replaced by Portuguese coach Miguel Cardoso. He lasted only a few months, replaced by legendary ex-player Vahid Halilhodzic. "Coach Vahid" oversaw the club through the tragic death of Emiliano Sala, then the club's best striker, immediately following his transfer to Welsh club Cardiff City. The club had a reasonable season, finishing 12th and reaching the semi-finals of the French Cup. Vahid left and was replaced by Christian Gourcuff, who led the club to a good start and a predictably average second half of the season, before the season was cancelled due to Covid-19.
The coaching staff quick turnover continued, and Gourcuff was let go after a bad start to 2020–21. Raymond Domenech takes his place, 27 years after his last coaching experience at Lyon, and 10 years after leaving the French national team. He lasted seven games before being replaced by Antoine Kombouaré on 10 February, with Nantes 18th and in the relegation zone. He started with a win over Angers before causing shockwaves by winning at the Parc des Princes against a vastly more prestigious PSG team, including Kylian Mbappé, Neymar and countless international players. This was Nantes' first win in Paris in the 21st century. Nantes, however, could not avoid finishing 18th, which meant they had to play Toulouse FC in a double-header game for the right to stay in Ligue 1; they won this encounter and were saved.
The 2021–22 season was more stable for the club. Nantes was involved in the battle for European participation, before a slow decline in results. It ended the season in a satisfactory 9th place in the league, and won a 4th French Cup, beating OGC Nice 1-0, for a first trophy since 2001.
FC Nantes played at Stade Marcel Saupin from 1937 to 1984. Nantes' moved to their current home ground Stade de la Beaujoire-Louis Fontenau in 1984, the stadium has a capacity of 38,128. A new stadium dubbed 'YelloPark' was expected to be built and replace the Stade de la Beaujoire-Louis Fontenau as Nantes' home ground in 2022, but the project was abandoned on 26 February 2019 following refusal by the Nantes Metropolitan Council to sell lands needed for development of the site.
- As of 4 April 2022
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Below are the notable former players who have represented Nantes in league and international competition since the club's foundation in 1943. To appear in the section below, a player must have played in at least 100 official matches for the club.
For a complete list of FC Nantes players, see Category:FC Nantes players
- Loïc Amisse
- Sylvain Armand
- William Ayache
- Bruno Baronchelli
- Jean-Paul Bertrand-Demanes
- Bernard Blanchet
- Maxime Bossis
- Vincent Bracigliano
- Robert Budzynski
- Eric Carrière
- Frédéric Da Rocha
- Marcel Desailly
- Didier Deschamps
- Jean-Michel Ferri
- Nicolas Gillet
- Philippe Gondet
- Jocelyn Gourvennec
- Christian Karembeu
- Antoine Kombouaré
- Mickaël Landreau
- Yvon Le Roux
- Patrice Loko
- Claude Makélélé
- Henri Michel
- Olivier Monterrubio
- Jean-Claude Osman
- Nicolas Ouédec
- Dimitri Payet
- Éric Pécout
- Reynald Pedros
- Gilles Rampillon
- Patrice Rio
- Omar Sahnoun
- Nicolas Savinaud
- Jean-Claude Suaudeau
- Jérémy Toulalan
- José Touré
- Thierry Tusseau
- Stéphane Ziani
- Valentin Rongier
- Djamel Abdoun
- Ángel Bargas
- Jorge Burruchaga
- Mauro Cetto
- Néstor Fabbri
- Ángel Marcos
- Oscar Muller
- Julio Olarticoechea
- Emiliano Sala
- Victor Trossero
- Michel Der Zakarian
- Franky Vercauteren
- Vahid Halilhodžić
- Salomon Olembé
- Japhet N'Doram
- Mario Yepes
- Erich Maas
- Noureddine Naybet
- Jaouad Zairi
- Samson Siasia
- Robert Gadocha
- Roman Kosecki
- Viorel Moldovan
- Claudiu Keșerü
- Mo Johnston
- Marama Vahirua
- Imed Mhedhebi
- Adel Sellimi
- Alejandro Bedoya
- Aimé Nuic (1943–46)
- Antoine Raab (1946–49)
- Antoine Gorius (1949–51)
- Émile Veinante (1951–55)
- Antoine Raab (1955–56)
- Stanislas Staho (1956)
- Ludwig Dupal (1956–59)
- Karel Michlowsky (1959–60)
- José Arribas (1960–76)
- Jean Vincent (1976–82)
- Jean-Claude Suaudeau (1 July 1982 – 30 June 1988)
- Miroslav "Ćiro" Blažević (1 July 1988 – 2 February 1991)
- Jean-Claude Suaudeau (2 February 1991 – 30 June 1997)
- Raynald Denoueix (1 July 1997 – 27 December 2001)
- Ángel Marcos (28 December Dec 2001–30 June 2003)
- Loïc Amisse (5 June 2003 – 2 January 2005)
- Serge Le Dizet (3 January 2005 – 10 September 2006)
- Georges Eo (20 September 2006 – 12 February 2007)
- Michel Der Zakarian and Japhet N'Doram (12 February 2007–07)
- Michel Der Zakarian (2007–26 August 2008)
- Christian Larièpe (interim) (27 Aug 2008 – 2 September 2008)
- Elie Baup (2 September 2008 – 30 June 2009)
- Gernot Rohr (1 July 2009 – 3 December 2009)
- Jean-Marc Furlan (3 December 2009 – 20 February 2010)
- Baptiste Gentili (21 February 2010 – 6 March 2011)
- Philippe Anziani (7 March 2011 – 30 May 2011)
- Landry Chauvin (31 May 2011 – 30 May 2012)
- Michel Der Zakarian (31 May 2012 – 10 May 2016)
- René Girard (11 May 2016 – 2 December 2016)
- Sérgio Conceição (8 December 2016 – 6 June 2017)
- Claudio Ranieri (15 June 2017 – 19 May 2018)
- Miguel Cardoso (13 June 2018 – 2 October 2018)
- Vahid Halilhodžić (2 October 2018 – 2 August 2019)
- Christian Gourcuff (August 2019 – December 2020)
- Raymond Domenech (December 2020 – February 2021)
- Antoine Kombouaré (February 2021 – present)
- Ligue 1
- Coupe de France
- Coupe de la Ligue
- Winners: 1964–65
- Trophée des Champions
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- "FC Nantes". LFP. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
- "LES INTENTIONS ARCHITECTURALES" (in French). FC Nantes. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
- "La construction du YelloPark de Nantes est annulée" (in French). SoFoot.com.
- "Nantes: Council agree to discuss land sale". StadiumDB.com.
- "Effectif" (in French). fcnantes.com. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
- "Nantes: Le numéro 9 qu'il a porté est retiré". FC Nantes Twitter. 8 February 2019.
- "Nantes retire No 9 shirt in honour of Emiliano Sala". BBC Sport. 8 February 2019.