A nickname, “the Sphinx”, and a red mop: deceased Monday at 81 years, Robert Herbin, player then coach of AS Saint-Etienne, will remain one of the symbols of the European epic of the Greens in 1976, page legend of French football. ” The world of football is in mourning Was moved journalist Jacques Vendroux, announcing the death of the famous Saint-Etienne coach on Twitter. ” An eternal legend “, The club soberly tweeted that evening.
Robert Herbin left for the Saint Etienne North Hospital this evening. His brother and his Sisters wanted me to officially announce it to you
We think of his family, friends and relatives, the green people. The world of football is in mourning.@ASSEofficiel
– Jacques Vendroux (@JacquesVendroux) April 27, 2020
” Hospitalized for several days, he died on April 27 (…) dropped by his heart “Reported the regional newspaper Progress on its website. Robert Herbin had been hospitalized since last Tuesday at Saint-Etienne University Hospital for serious heart and lung failure, unrelated to the epidemic of new coronavirus.
A social phenomenon that has become a vintage myth today, Saint-Etienne’s journey in 1976 under the leadership of the Sphinx to the final uninhibited France from football after 18 years of scarcity at the end of the 1958 World Cup.
This evening of May 12, in a stadium in Hampden Park in Glasgow committed to its cause, the team led by Herbin loses 1-0, against the course of the game, against Bayern Munich in the final of the Club Cup champions. The fault, wants to believe France, to the famous “square posts” which repelled the shots from Saint-Etienne. ” It marked me well. It remains engraved. I didn’t digest it. I’m still thinking about it today. I believe that the good Lord was not with us, neither the posts, nor the crossbar “Herbin confided in October 2015, admitting to having” never seen the match again “
→ READ. Saint-Etienne, forty years after the “Greens”
Born in Paris on March 30, 1939, Robert Herbin moved to Nice at the age of eight, where his father, a musician, got a job at the opera. It was at the Cavigal, a local club famous for its youth training, that young Robert made his debut, notably placing third in the young footballer’s competition. In 1957, he was spotted by Pierre Garonnaire, already a recruiter for the Stéphane club.
Coach at 33
At ASSE, under the leadership of Jean Snella then Albert Batteux, his mentors who will make him want to be a coach, Herbin established himself in the 1960s as a major player, in midfield then defender central, naturally becoming captain. As a player, he will only have worn the green jersey.
Forced to stop his career in 1972 due to a knee injury, the man who passed his education diploma two years earlier, graduating from his class, then took charge of the Stéphane team, only 33 years. A technical and tactical perfectionist, he was also the forerunner in France of athletic preparation.
→ READ. The “Greens” of Saint-Etienne, heroes of the small screen
Sportingly, he relied on a generation of young people from the training center (Merchadier, Bathenay, Synaeghel, Santini, Lopez, P. Revelli, Sarramagna and later Rocheteau) to dominate the French championship and get up close to the big ones. Europe. From green to blue, several of these Stéphanois will then form the backbone of the France team.
Nine times champion
Recognizable by his curly, red hair, nicknamed “Roby” or the “Sphinx” for his ability, on the sidelines, to show no emotion, Robert Herbin won five titles of champion of France as a player and four others in as a coach. Nine out of the ten crowns of the club, as well as six French Cups. He also played in the 1966 World Cup in England with the French team (23 caps, 3 goals).
The affair of the famous “black box” of the Greens during the 1982-1983 season, during which he was in conflict with President Roger Rocher, caused the end of his collaboration with ASSE. Subsequently, his journey was less glorious. Hired by Olympique Lyonnais, he failed to save the Rhone club from relegation or to raise it to the top (1983-1985).
Robert Herbin then directs the club of Al Nasr Riyad in Saudi Arabia (1985-1986) then Strasbourg (1986-1987, 9e in D2) before returning to Saint-Étienne (1987-1990), where the splendor of the Greens is only a memory despite a 4e place in the championship (1988) and a semi-final of the Coupe de France (1990). He will finish his career at the Red Star in Division 2 (1991-1995).
This well-informed music lover lived his retirement in L’Etrat (Loire) on the heights of Saint-Etienne, while commenting on the matches of the Greens through a weekly column in the local daily newspaper La Tribune-Le Progrès.