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Joël Bats (born 4 January 1957) is a French retired professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper. He played his entire senior club career in his native France. From 1976 to 1992, he appeared in a total of 553 competitive club matches and 504 domestic league (all of them Division 1) matches for three French clubs (Sochaux, Auxerre and Paris Saint-Germain). He played 50 matches (35 competitive matches and 15 friendly matches) for the senior France team.
Bats with Lyon in 2008
|Date of birth||4 January 1957|
|Place of birth||Mont-de-Marsan, France|
|Height||1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)|
|1992–1994||Paris Saint-Germain (goalkeeping coach)|
|1994–1996||Paris Saint-Germain (assistant)|
|2000–2017||Olympique Lyonnais (goalkeeping coach)|
|2018||Montreal Impact (goalkeeping coach)|
|2019||Montreal Impact (assistant)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Bats joined the youth academy of FC Sochaux-Montbéliard. He played for Sochaux's U19 youth team until the summer of 1974. He began his Sochaux professional career at the start of the 1974–75 season. Bats spent the 1974–75 and 1975–76 seasons playing only for the club's reserve team. After Bats was promoted to the club's first team in the summer of 1976, he had to compete with Albert Rust for playing time over the next four seasons, with the two of them being alternated in matches. Bats stayed at Sochaux until the end of the 1979–80 season.
In the summer of 1980, Bats joined AJ Auxerre, which would made its Division 1 debut in the 1980–81 season after having earned promotion to Division 1 by winning the 1979–80 French Division 2 title. He became the undisputed first-choice goalkeeper during each of his five seasons at Auxerre.
In the summer of 1985, Bats joined Paris Saint-Germain. PSG won their first Division 1/Ligue 1 title in 1986. Bats was PSG's first-choice goalkeeper during each of his seven seasons there. He played 286 competitive matches for PSG until his retirement at the end of the 1991–92 season.
Bats was selected to represent France for the 1984 European Championship finals, which France hosted and won. He played every minute of France's five matches at that tournament. It was in the semi-finals that Bats truly shone, making a pair of superb saves in the 3–2 extra-time win over Portugal before France beat Spain 2–0 in the final to lift the Henri Delaunay Trophy and win their first major international title. By the end of that tournament, Bats was recognized as a safe, authoritative presence in goal. He would remain as the first-choice goalkeeper for France until his international retirement in 1989.
Bats played all 8 of the 1986 World Cup qualifying matches and France finished at the top of its UEFA qualifying group. During the 1986 FIFA World Cup finals, he played every minute of France's three group stage matches, round of 16, quarter-final and semi-final matches. In that tournament, he famously saved a penalty from Zico in the second half of normal time and another penalty from Sócrates in the penalty shoot-out during the quarter-final against Brazil. However, he uncharacteristically let a free-kick from Andreas Brehme slip through his hands in the semi-final against West Germany, which France lost 2–0.
Bats played 7 out of the 8 1988 European Championship qualifying matches and all 8 of the 1990 World Cup qualifying matches. France did not qualify for the finals of both of those tournaments. Bats became the first goalkeeper to make his 50th appearance for the senior France team when he was in the starting lineup of the 2–0 1990 World Cup qualifying home win over Cyprus on 18 November 1989; he played every minute of that match and it was also his final appearance for France.
Bats was a member of the Paris Saint-Germain coaching staff, first as Artur Jorge's goalkeeping coach (1992–1994) and then as Luis Fernández's assistant coach (1994–1996). Bats was appointed joint head coach of PSG with Ricardo Gomes in June 1996. PSG won the 1997–98 Coupe de France and the 1997–98 Coupe de la Ligue but a disappointing 1997–98 French Division 1 season and a series of boardroom changes saw Bats and Gomes replaced in June 1998 by Alain Giresse.
Bats had a brief, undistinguished spell as head coach (July 1998 - September 1999) of Division 2 club L.B. Châteauroux. During his 15-month-long spell, Châteauroux won only 32% of their competitive matches.
In the summer of 2000, Bats was appointed goalkeeping coach at Olympique Lyonnais, a post that he held continuously until December 2017. During his 17 years at OL, he coached three goalkeepers who played for their countries at the senior level - Grégory Coupet, Hugo Lloris and Anthony Lopes. Bats had been under contract at OL until 2019 but the club allowed him to leave early so that he could join up with former OL head coach Rémi Garde at Major League Soccer club Montreal Impact.
Bats was diagnosed with testicular cancer in the summer of 1982, but quickly made a full recovery after surgery. As therapy during his convalescence, he took up writing poetry, and had two volumes of it published.
In 1986, Bats put his poetry to music, releasing an album named Gardien de tes Nuits (Keeper of your Nights). Later in the same year, he released three singles - a children's song (converted from a poem) named L'Escargot (The Snail), a plaintive ballad named Soli Solitude and Même si je m’envole (Even if I am flying).
- "Joël Bats at FootballDatabase.eu". www.footballdatabase.eu.
- "Profile of Joël Bats by the French Football Federation". French Football Federation website.
- "Mexico 86 : Joël Bats". www.oldschoolpanini.com.
- "EURO cult heroes: 1984 – Joël Bats". www.uefa.com.
- "Long-serving Bats to leave Lyon". www.ligue1.com. 14 November 2017.
- "Joël Bats prolonge son aventure à L'OL". www.sofoot.com. 23 August 2016.
- "Joël Bats: A football and musical profile of the Auxerre, PSG and France goalkeeper". www.footballandmusic.co.uk. 22 September 2014.