From Sporting Toulon to AS Monaco: Christian Dalger, the precious witness
Does he still have the same right paw that has integrated his legend? Impossible to say since Christian Dalger did not enter the field during a recent charity match with former glories of Sporting Toulon.
And then the former striker, whose history remains forever linked to the Var club and AS Monaco, put his foot behind him a little. 72 years old, here he is “president of boules in Carry-le-Rouet”a seaside village near Martigues, where happy days flow.
But when it comes to evoking his rich past, a certain mischief emerges behind his generous smile and his piercing blue eyes. Christian Dalger remains the precious witness of a football before, of which he was an exceptional player, before coaching for thirty years. Until he has “the more I want”.
The best player you have met?
Platinum (without hesitation).
And in a club?
In Toulon, Ginola (which he started with the pros in 1985) was above. We also had a phenomenon in the cages: Olmeta.
And in Monaco?
There were two monsters: Delio Onnis and Jeannot Petit. The first put them at the bottom and if we talked about me, it was thanks to him (1). The second was a super worker, always helpful, who never said a word. In nine years, I slept more with him than with my wife!
What was your relationship with Delio Onnis, who to date remained the top scorer in the history of the L1 (299, against 135 for Mbappé, to situate)?
It happened naturally when he arrived (in 1973 in Monaco, a year and a half after him). When I had the ball, I knew where it was and he knew where I was going to put it. Once again, if I flamed, it was because people said: “Center of Dalger, but of Onnis”. At the time, I was not cataloged as a passer, there were no statistics of assists like now, but I was satisfied with it. In addition, Delio is a great guy with whom we shared good times, before and after the matches. I’m not a goalscorer like him, even though I thought I could be when I started at Sporting: to be a goalscorer is to be mean, to kill everyone, and I didn’t have that mentality or that ability. .
The french team ?
I had the chance to compete in the World Cup in Argentina in 1978 – where Delio came to see me – but it was thanks to the title of French champion with Monaco. A World Cup marks a player, but it’s not like when you live a whole season in a club. And in Monaco, we were a bunch of friends, we got high for us and for the Prince! It was not the spectators who encouraged us: we knew each of their first names.
The foot, are you still watching?
I come to show up when Sporting calls me, it’s still my home club. I haven’t seen a match this season, but I thought that with Jean Tigana (sportsman’s boss left just after the end of the season), it would start again. They had the potential to end up a little closer to the prime ministers. I hope it will be done with Marcel (Dib, appointed sporting director)who is a friend (and Eric Rech, the next coach, Editor’s note).
What does it make you see Sporting in N2?
We got used to it… But it’s not a club that deserves to be in the fourth division. I see it more in L2, possibly with a climb, as we had done. It’s doable. There is such potential in the Var. With quality and above all a mind that does not exist elsewhere. This culture of the worker, of rugby, which makes us like guys who wet the jersey. It is a fundamental value if they ever want to return to the second division.
You had two climbs with Toulon, in D2 (1981) then in D1 (1983). Where do you situate these memories in relation to the title with ASM, for example?
The rise in D1, in 1983, it remains a great moment. Even my nine years with Monaco will not erase what I experienced at Sporting. It’s stronger, because that’s where I started and where I trained…
And that’s where Delio Onnis joins you, in D1… You had something to do with it, didn’t you?
Hey! Yes. He had signed in Tours (D1, 1980). Me, I still had a year of contract, but Campora (the president of Monaco) told me: “You will go everywhere, except Tours.” In Toulon, when we got on, he was the first one I contacted! He came right away. For me ? He should ask the question…
How was the start of your playing career?
I learned certain rules of respect from the elders (Van Sam, Garofalo, Bourrier, Raspotnik, Borowski…). My first match at Bon-Rencontre went very well, we won 3-1 against Bastia. I was 16 and a half. I carry the equipment bag. Before, it was like that… But it’s because we didn’t have an agent. We belonged. Either we wanted to succeed or we didn’t.
The mentality, it played a lot in the results?
We, at the time, were lucky to have the team traumatized by the descent into the third division. I had arrived, and with other reinforcements, we had gotten to the level of the players in place. I had just won the Coupe de France with Monaco but I adopted their mentality. I think it still exists but we then made sure to recruit in the Var (Ginola…), which allowed us to stay in D1.
This first maintenance, in 1984, you experience it as a player… then very quickly as a coach. What happened ?
After the climb, I played seven games. After a defeat against Saint-Étienne at Bon-Rencontre, I had a meeting with the president and Marcel Duval agreed (to hand over). I became a coach overnight. Without regret. We held on and the following year, we missed Europe by one point. I left at the end of the third for reasons that concern only one person (a priori Rolland Courbis, who would have soaped his board, Editor’s note)…I came back to D2 (during the 1997-98 season, in place of Albert Emon) before the club puts the key under the door.
Could the Christian Dalger of the time play in L1 today?
Not attacking, huh! Football has evolved so much. Now, we ask a striker to come back, to defend… In Monaco, when we lost the ball with Delio, we came back walking. But in number 10, I would still give good balls.
1. The Italian-Argentinian goleader recently paid tribute to him in Nice morning: “Christian Dalger made me score a ton of goals. He had a sight at the end of the shoe. Every single cross of his fell on me.”