Ex de Malherbe. Bill Tchato, an indomitable Lion raised in Calvados
Through Nicolas claich
From M’Biam to Yaoundé, via Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives. Here is, succinctly summarized, the trajectory of Bill Tchato. Of those that only football can invent. The defender trained in Stade Malherbe Caen (Calvados) has lived a career full of twists and turns, of discoveries. “I was born in Cameroon, but I left at the age of 8,” he says. My parents were diplomats ”.
What there is to knowUpdated Oct 1, 2021
Aged 46, Bill Tchato has been the general coordinator of Cameroon’s national selections for three years. “I organize all the activities of the women’s and men’s selections, from U17s to Seniors A,” he explains. I set up the internships, the trips for these teams. I prepare budgets, flight and hotel reservations… ”A task made complex by the spread of the Cameroonian diaspora to the four corners of the world. Bill Tchato embraced this new role after an experience as a “team manager” for seniors A. A position he had already held at the end of his career, in the academy created in Gabon by … Samuel Etoo, l idol of Cameroon. “He told the president of the federation that I was the right person for this function. I owe him a lot ”.
The terror of the tusks in minimal
After two years in Paris and two more in London, the family returned home. But young Bill remains in France to continue his studies. This is how he landed in Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives, in the heart of the Pays d’Auge, where a cousin was staying with a host family. “At the Deguerpelles, very nice people”. In the schoolyard, Bill’s qualities do not escape Patrick Chalot, emblematic coach of US Pétruvienne. “I signed my first license when I was 12 or 13,” recalls Bill Tchato. We were playing in PH ”.
On the grounds of Calvados, the speed of the minimal Cameroonian is wreaking havoc. It then evolves on the front of the attack and martyrs the opposing defenders. “I scored 5, 6 but every weekend. Once, I put 9! “, Smiles the one who was logically spotted by Stade Malherbe. The day of detection is only a formality, the weed control recruiters being already convinced of the potential of the young boy. However, under the rule of Guy Lunel, his first coach in Blue and Red, the beginnings are grueling.
The first ten days, I was an external. I returned every evening to Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives by train. I fell asleep on the train and, once, I missed the stop at Saint-Pierre station …
The teenager therefore joined the SM Caen training center, then located in a house at the end of the dead end of rue du stade de Venoix. When he was not rallying Cahagnes by bike with a single pedal, he attended with his friends the Ligue 1 matches at Stade Malherbe, taking the passage that connected the center to the bend of the old stadium. “This is where I learned everything, with Pascal Théault, the director of the center, continues Tchato. He taught me the basics that have served me throughout my career. We did a lot of training at the station ”.
These sessions continue when Daniel Jeandupeux, whose eye has been identified by Bill’s qualities, threw him into the deep end, replacing Stéphane Lièvre. “With my physical qualities and my attacking technique, he thought I would make a good left-back.” The result proved the Helvète right, even if the trainee Tchato finally signed his first professional contract with Valence (Drôme), in D2.
Memories of Malherbe. “La Gambardella, an extraordinary adventure”
Who is the strongest player you’ve played with at SM Caen?
David Sommeil and Frédéric Née, who were also my friends! There is also William Gallas, who had a great career in the France team. I also think of Franck Priou. It is also thanks to him that I was able to sign pro in Valencia. He introduced me to an agent.
Who were you closest to in the locker room?
With William Gallas and David Sommeil, on was together all the time. I still have William from time to time on the phone. As for David, I went to see him in Bordeaux after his accident (Editor’s note: the defender had suffered a heart attack during training, while he was playing in Valenciennes, in 2008. He stayed for 15 days in a coma) but unfortunately it’s been a long time.
What is your best memory with Stade Malherbe?
Undoubtedly, the adventure in Gambardella (Editor’s note: in 1994). We reached the final against the Lyon of Giuly and Bardon. Despite the defeat (5-0), it remains an extraordinary adventure. We had a great group, with David and Fred, or Sébastien Bannier, under the direction of Pascal Théault. He was a coach very close to his players, who instilled in us values for everyday life.
58 caps with Cameroon
His career will then take him to Nice, Montpellier and Kaiserslautern. He will discover Qatar before returning to France, to Strasbourg, and a last freelance at… FC Sapins, in Gabon. Between 2000 and 2008, Bill Tchato defended the famous green jersey of the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon 58 times. He won an African Cup of Nations in 2002 in Mali, played the World Cup the same year in South Korea and Japan. “When I was a child, I dreamed in front of Roger Milla and Théophile Abega, the stars of the national team. I never imagined playing for my country. My trajectory had to be like that, I was privileged! “
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