France.

SC Bastia.

SC Bastia supporters can thank a Swiss man, in Hans Reuch, who taught German at a secondary school in Bastia, for the existence of their 109 year old, Corsica based club. Alongside Emile Brandizi, their inauguration began in 1905, with the I’s dotted and the T’s crossed, in the light of a solitary gas burner. Sixty years later, the team finally became professional, starting off in Division Two and within three years, they became champions of that very league.

Having being promoted, they more than held their own, automatically. In 1972 they narrowly lost to Olympique de Marseille, in the French Cup Final and four years later, reached the UEFA Cup Final, losing to Kees Rijvers’ (the Dutchman who brought through Ronald Koeman, Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit, for Holland) PSV Eindhoven; highlighting the meteoric rise of Les Bleus, engineered by manager, the late, great, Frenchman Pierre Cahuzac, whose birthday it would have been today.

That memorable team contained the likes of Frenchman Charles Orlanducci (captain), star players Nicholas “Johnny” Rep (representative of the famous “Total Football” Netherlands teams, who holds the all-time Oranje World Cup goal record (7) and won back to back European Cups with Ajax) and Dragan Džajić (associate of the lauded 1968 Yugoslavia team), Frenchman Jean Francois Larios (who was once accused of sleeping with Michel Platini’s wife), Abdelkrim Merry (member of the honourable 1986 Moroccan side) and Frenchman Claude Papi (who tragically died of a ruptured aneurysm, at the age of 33); all cult classic, Panini legends.

In 1981, they reaped what they sowed, with a distinguishable victory over a St. Etienne side containing the aforementioned Platini, to lift the French Cup, with a team including Cameroon hero Roger Milla. After 18 years in the top flight, the club fell to pieces, culminating in being relegated, in 1986.

A harrowing disaster occured in their Armand Cesari stadium, in 1992, as a makeshift stand collapsed during a French Cup Semi Final game in which they were playing, against Olympique de Marseille, killing 18 and injuring 2,300.

From the mid 90’s, through to the early 00’s, they had consolidated their position in Ligue 1, before spiralling out of control, into the Amateur League, falling from grace into administration, in 2010, despite seeing the ilk of Anto Drobnjak, Lubomir Moravčík, Michael Essien, Christian Karembeu, Florian Maurice and Alex Song recruited during that period.

With the aid of promising talent such as French U21 player, Florian Thauvin (currently at Marseille) and cultured experience in the form of Toifilou Maoulida (now with Nimes), they made a very swift recovery, achieving back to back promotions, to return to Ligue 1, in 2012 and have been relatively comfortable ever since, even helping to send bitter rivals Ajaccio down in the process, last season, thanks to popular former manager Frédéric Hantz, who instilled an extremely fruitful team ethic into the squad.

This season, they have acquired France, Real Madrid and Chelsea legend Claude Makélélé, as manager, who was previously Laurent Blanc’s understudy, at Paris St. Germain, whom he has purchased promising French U-21 keeper Alphonso Areola from, to replace retired all time Ligue 1 appearance keeper, Mickaël Landreau.

Losing the exciting Wahbi Khazri to Bordeaux is very disappointing but with winger Floyd Ayité coming in from Reims, fresh talent in the form of Georgian U-21 midfielder Luka Kikabidze, from Lokomotivi Tbilisi, delightful attacking players such as Ryad Boudebouz and experienced players like former Arsenal defender Sébastien Squillaci and the versatile Romaric, they and their loyal followers are more than likely to remain content for the foreseeable future.

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