FC Nantes

Last updated

Logo FC Nantes (avec fond) - 2019.svg
Full nameFootball Club de Nantes
Nickname(s)La Maison Jaune (The Yellow House)
Les Canaris (The Canaries) [1]
Short nameFCN or Nantes
Founded21 April 1943;79 years ago (1943-04-21)
Ground Stade de la Beaujoire
Owner Waldemar Kita
President Waldemar Kita
Head coach Antoine Kombouaré
League Ligue 1
2021–22 Ligue 1, 9th of 20
Website Club website
Soccerball current event.svg Current season

Football Club de Nantes (Breton : Naoned; Gallo: Naunnt), commonly referred to as FC Nantes or simply Nantes (IPA:  [nɑ̃t] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )), is a French professional football club based in Nantes in Pays de la Loire. The club was founded on 21 April 1943, during World War II, as a result of local clubs based in the city coming together to form one large club. From 1992 to 2007, the club was referred to as FC Nantes Atlantique before reverting to its current name at the start of the 2007–08 season. Nantes play in Ligue 1, the first division of Football in France. Nantes is one of the most successful clubs in French football, having won eight Ligue 1 titles, four Coupe de France wins and attained one Coupe de la Ligue victory.


The club is famous for its jeu à la nantaise ("Nantes-style play"), its collective spirit, mainly advocated under coaches José Arribas, Jean-Claude Suaudeau and Raynald Denoueix and for its youth system, which has produced players such as Marcel Desailly, Didier Deschamps, Mickaël Landreau, Claude Makélélé, Christian Karembeu and Jérémy Toulalan. As well as Les Canaris (The Canaries), Nantes is also nicknamed Les jaunes et verts (The Green and Yellows) and La Maison Jaune (The Yellow House).



The club was founded in 1943. [2] The first match played by Nantes as a professional team took place at the Stade Olympique de Colombes against CA Paris, where Nantes triumphed 2–0. The first home match was a defeat of the same score against Troyes. The club finished fifth at the end of this first season following which the club's manager Aimé Nuic left the club following a dispute, and was succeeded by Antoine Raab, who took over in a player-coach role. After winning 16 consecutive matches, Nantes lost 9–0 to Sochaux.[ citation needed ]

The club became a professional football club in 1945 after winning the Western Region championship, and started that season in the second division. Under historic president Marcel Saupin, it spent a few years as a mid-table club in that division, with even threat of relegation in 1950, avoided on the last game only.

The 1950s

Results improved from 1951 onwards, and the club just missed out on promotion in 1952, finishing 4th, under respected coach Emile Veinante. His successor Antoine Raab was able to recruit more prestigious players, including Dutch stars Gerrit Vreken and Jan van Geen, but despite this, the club stagnated again. A number of coaches followed, but the club did not progress, and promising early starts to seasons often petered out by their ends.

In 1960, president Marcel Saupin selected the young and promising amateur coach José Arribas. He was credited with revolutionising the team's game, insisting on team-based, less individual play, and an attack-oriented game. He set up a 4-2-4 instead of the then traditional 4 banks of players. His system showed promise but results were not forthcoming right away: placings read 11th, 6th in his first 2 seasons, and finally 2nd in 1962, having led the second division for the first half of the season. In that time, the club took part in the short-lived Anglo-French-Scottish cup, losing 71 to Liverpool FC.

Life in the top division - the José Arribas years (1963 to 1976)

José Arribas and Nantes found their place in the top division right away and finished 8th in their first season. The following season was even better: the club becomes French champions, and their star striker Jacky Simon was the league's top goalscorer and became the first Nantes player to earn an international cap. The club also won the French League Cup.

In 1965, the club confirmed its place at the top and won the league again. Best defence (36 goals conceded), best attack (84 goals scored), Philippe Gondet ended the season as the league's top goalscorer with 36 goals in 37 games. French success did not lead to European success however, and Nantes lost their first-round European Cup game to Partizan Belgrade, who went on to reach the final. At the end of that season, three Nantes players (De Michèle, Gondet and Budzynski) wre part of the French team playing the World Cup in England.

The late 60s and early 70s were not stellar years for the club, typically ending between the 10th and 7th place in the league. They made the French Cup final in 1970 but were routed by Saint-Etienne 5-0. Coach José Arribas's place was not under threat however, being very popular with players and fans alike. In parallel, the club worked hard behind the scene to modernise its structures and to develop its recruitment and player academy. Ex-players Jean-Claude Suaudeau and Robert Budzynski joined the coaching and recruitment team, and were tasked with deploying the club's playing philosophy at all levels of the club's teams. Young players such as Patrice Rio, allied with experienced Argentinians Ángel Marcos and Hugo Bargas, as well as Bayern Munich star Erich Maas enabled the club to turn its fortunes around and win the league in 1973. They also made the French Cup final but lost to Lyon.

The club however could not break its European jinx: Danish amateur club Vejle eliminated Nantes in the first round of the European Cup. Results in the French league are good, although below that of high-flying club AS Saint-Etienne, but European results disappointed, year after year. In 1976, the club and José Arribas finally decided to part ways after 13 years together.

Jean Vincent and Jean-Claude Suaudeau (1976 to 1988)

New coach Jean Vincent was tasked with bringing more success in cups, both domestic and European. He started by reshuffling the team, putting aside a few stars and starting young academy players such as Loic Amisse, Eric Pécout and Bruno Baronchelli. The team still used a very watchable system of play and won the league in 1977, for the fourth time in its history. In 1978, the team finished second behind Monaco but European disappointments continued. That year, the club opened its start-of-the-art training complex La Jonelière (since renamed José Arribas Sporting Centre), the most advanced in France at the time.

In 1979, Jean-Claude Suaudeau was promoted to assistant manager, and this association saw the club thrive, winning its first French Cup in 1979, while finishing 2nd in the league. And finally in Europe, the club enjoyed some success, reaching the semi-finals of the Cup Winners Cup competition where they lost to Spanish club Valencia. With Argentinian star player Enzo Trossero, and young up-and-coming academy players José Touré and William Ayache, the club remained 92 games unbeaten at home.

Jean Vincent left the club in 1981, struggling to fit his new star striker, Yugoslav Vahid Halilhodzic, into Nantes system of play. Suaudeau took the reins by himself. He benefited from a star-studded defense, with French international goalkeeper Jean-Paul Bertrand-Demanes, centre-backs Patrice Rio and Maxime Bossis, and full backs Michel Bibard, Thierry Tusseau and William Ayache; Bruno Baronchelli still pulls the strings in midfield, helped by academy youngster Seth Adonkor protecting the defence; winger Loic Amisse enjoyed a purple patch in his twilight years; strikers José Touré (nicknamed 'the Brazilian') and particularly Vahid Halilhodzic enjoyed a great partnership. In their new La Beaujoire stadium, built for the 1984 Euro competition, Nantes won the title in 1983, and missed out on the double when they lost the French Cup final to Paris Saint-Germain.

Several other French clubs then increased their budgets significantly, and Nantes could not compete. The club lost Thierry Tusseau to Bordeaux, William Ayache to PSG and Maxime Bossis to Matra Racing. Nantes were still among the premier clubs in France, attracting players such as Jorge Burruchaga (World Cup winner with Argentina in 1986), and managed to finish 6th in 1984, 2nd in 1985 and 2nd again in 1986. Other expensive recruits such as Maurice Johnston and Eddie Vercauteren did not gel and the results gradually declined. The constant influx of talented academy players such as Didier Deschamps and Marcel Desailly was not quite enough to compensate the departures and progress made by other clubs. The club finished 12th in 1987 and 10th in 1988.

Crisis and renaissance (1988 to 2004)

Suaudeau was then let go and the Croatian coach Miroslav Blazevic takes his place. The club however experienced financial difficulties (and was even nearly demoted in 1992), and had to rely almost exclusively on its young academy players to survive in the top division. The club became a "feeder club", selling its best young players to richer clubs: Deschamps and Yvon Le Roux to Olympique Marseille, Michel Der Zakarian to Montpellier, Antoine Kombouaré to Toulon, and Vincent Bracigliano to Nimes.

Supporters at an away match. FCNA supporters.jpg
Supporters at an away match.

In July 1991, the club re-appointed Jean-Claude Suaudeau, and in July 1992, after spending a fortnight in the second division due to an administrative decision by the DNCG (French Football's financial regulator), FC Nantes was renamed FC Nantes Atlantique, and was able to take its place in the first division back. Working closely with youth coach Raynald Denoueix, Suaudeau reinstated the "Nantes way of play" and, despite Marcel Desailly's departure to Marseille, stabilised the team. Soon the club could again show its trademark quick game with instant passing. The academy provided players who could mix the physical with the technical, particularly those such as Christian Karembeu, Patrice Loko, Claude Makélélé and Nicolas Ouédec. Midfield maestros Japhet N'Doram and Raynald Pedros delighted crowds all over France. The team reached the French Cup final in 1993 (losing to PSG) before winning the French league in 1995. Nantes registered ten 3–0 wins at home that season. In 1995–96 Nantes reached the semi-finals of the European Cup, coming close to eliminating Juventus after a superb performance in the return leg at home.

However, Nantes continued to sell its best players, with Karembeu and Loko sold in 1995 and Ouédec, N'Doram, Makélélé, Benoît Cauet and goalkeeper David Marraud sold in the following two years. In 1997, frustrated by this, Suaudeau left the club and Denoueix took charge. The academy cane to the rescue once again, and nimble, technical, players such as Stéphane Ziani, Olivier Monterrubio, Eric Carrière, Mikael Landreau and Frédéric Da Rocha enabled the club to win two French Cups in a row (1999 and 2000) [3] before winning the league in 2001. Denoueix's departure for Real Sociedad impacted the club somewhat, but Nantes still managed a French Cup semi-final, a League Cup final and 6th place in the league in 2004 under coaches Angel Marcos Loic Amisse.

Down and out (2005 to 2013)

Nantes finished last in the league in 2007 and were relegated, triggering a pitch invasion and protests by fans. 44 consecutive seasons in the top division came to an end.

In the summer of 2007 summer the club was sold to business Waldemar Kita. While the club had only five managers between 1960 and 2000, in the decade 2000 to 2010 ten were employed and sacked. The club was promoted back to the top division in 2008, only to be relegated again the next season. Nantes then finished in 15th place in Ligue 2 under the management of three different coaches.

Back to the top (2013 to present)

Michel Der Zakarian, former Nantes player (1979-1988) and manager (2007-2008; 2012-2016) FBBP01 - FCN - 20151028 - Coupe de la Ligue - Michel Der Zakarian.jpg
Michel Der Zakarian, former Nantes player (1979–1988) and manager (2007–2008; 2012–2016)

Ex-player Michel Der Zakarian took the helm in 2012, leading the club to promotion from the 2012–13 Ligue 2, with 20 goals from Filip Đorđević. [4] The team made it to the semi-finals of the 2013–14 Coupe de la Ligue, losing 2–1 at home to PSG. [5] In April 2016, after a tense relationship, club president Waldemar Kita announced that Der Zakarian would leave at the end of the season. [6]

René Girard was sacked after 15 games with Nantes second from bottom in December 2016, and was replaced by Sérgio Conceição. [7] He took the team to 7th place, but left in June 2017 for FC Porto to be closer to his family. [8]

Following brief spells by Claudio Ranieri and Miguel Cardoso, former Nantes player Vahid Halilhodžić was hired in October 2018. [9] The following January, the club transferred Argentine striker Emiliano Sala to Premier League club Cardiff City for £15 million; he died in a light aircraft crash in the English Channel. The club reached the semi-finals of the 2018–19 Coupe de France, losing 3–0 to PSG. [10]

After a year with Christian Gourcuff in charge and seven games under former France national team manager Raymond Domenech, 18th-placed Nantes hired Antoine Kombouaré on 10 February 2021. He finished the season in that position, before winning the play-off against Toulouse to stay up. [11] On 7 May 2022, Nantes won their fourth Coupe de France with a 1–0 win over Nice, their first honour since 2001; Ludovic Blas scored the only goal from the penalty spot. [12]


Stade de la Beaujoire, also known as the Stade de Nantes. Stade de la Beaujoire.jpg
Stade de la Beaujoire, also known as the Stade de Nantes.

FC Nantes played at Stade Marcel Saupin from 1937 to 1984. [13] They moved to their current home ground Stade de la Beaujoire in 1984; the stadium has a capacity of 38,128. [14] A new stadium dubbed 'YelloPark' was expected to be built as Nantes' home ground in 2022, but the project was abandoned on 26 February 2019 following refusal by the Nantes Metropolitan Council to sell lands needed for development of the site. [15] [16] [17]


Current squad

As of 30 January 2023 [18]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

1 GK Flag of France.svg  FRA Alban Lafont ( captain )
3 DF Flag of Brazil.svg  BRA Andrei Girotto
4 DF Flag of France.svg  FRA Nicolas Pallois ( vice-captain )
5 MF Flag of Spain.svg  ESP Pedro Chirivella
7 FW Flag of France.svg  FRA Evann Guessand (on loan from Nice)
8 MF Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg  COD Samuel Moutoussamy
10 MF Flag of France.svg  FRA Ludovic Blas
11 FW Flag of France.svg  FRA Marcus Coco
14 FW Flag of Cameroon.svg  CMR Ignatius Ganago
16 GK Flag of France.svg  FRA Rémy Descamps
17 MF Flag of France.svg  FRA Moussa Sissoko
21 DF Flag of Cameroon.svg  CMR Jean-Charles Castelletto
24 DF Flag of France.svg  FRA Sébastien Corchia
25 MF Flag of France.svg  FRA Florent Mollet
26 DF Flag of France.svg  FRA Jaouen Hadjam
27 MF Flag of Nigeria.svg  NGA Moses Simon
28 DF Flag of France.svg  FRA Fabien Centonze
29 MF Flag of France.svg  FRA Quentin Merlin
30 GK Flag of Serbia.svg  SRB Denis Petrić
31 FW Flag of Egypt.svg  EGY Mostafa Mohamed (on loan from Galatasaray)
38 DF Flag of Brazil.svg  BRA João Victor (on loan from Benfica)
93 DF Flag of Mali.svg  MLI Charles Traoré
99 FW Flag of Algeria.svg  ALG Andy Delort (on loan from Nice)

Reserve squad

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

18 MF Flag of France.svg  FRA Samuel Yepié Yepié
19 MF Flag of France.svg  FRA Mohamed Achi
20 MF Flag of France.svg  FRA Lohann Doucet
22 MF Flag of France.svg  FRA Gor Manvelyan
23 DF Flag of France.svg  FRA Robin Voisine
44 DF Flag of France.svg  FRA Nathan Zézé
61 FW Flag of France.svg  FRA Joe-Loïc Affamah
63 DF Flag of France.svg  FRA Michel Diaz

Out on loan

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

53 FW Flag of France.svg  FRA Bridge Ndilu (at SO Cholet until 30 June 2023)
55 FW Flag of France.svg  FRA Abdoul Kader Bamba (at AS Saint-Étienne until 30 June 2023)
DF Flag of France.svg  FRA Yannis M'Bemba (at Le Puy until 30 June 2023)
DF Flag of France.svg  FRA Ryan Sabry(at Stade Briochin until 30 June 2023)
MF Flag of France.svg  FRA Abou Ba (at Seraing until 30 June 2023)

Retired numbers

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

9 FW Flag of Argentina.svg  ARG Emiliano Sala (posthumous honour) [19] [20]

Notable players

Below are the notable former players who have represented Nantes in league and international competition since the club's foundation in 1943. To appear in the section below, a player must have played in at least 100 official matches for the club. [ citation needed ]

For a complete list of FC Nantes players, see Category:FC Nantes players

Club officials

Sports coordinator Flag of France.svg Philippe Mao
Head coach Flag of France.svg Antoine Kombouaré
Assistant head coach Flag of France.svg Yves Bertucci
Goalkeeping coach Flag of France.svg Willy Grondin
Fitness coach Flag of Japan.svg Toru Ota
Conditioning coach Flag of France.svg Guillaume Marie
Flag of France.svg Michel Dufour
Video Analyst Flag of France.svg Robin Freneau
Scout Flag of France.svg Martial Desbordes
Flag of France.svg Bernard Blanchet
Flag of France.svg Alain Merchadier
Flag of Guinea-Bissau.svg Flag of France.svg Odilio Gomis
Doctor Flag of France.svg Isabelle Salaün
Flag of France.svg Marc Dauty
Physiotherapist Flag of France.svg Nicolas-Pierre Bernot
Flag of France.svg Jean-Philippe Cadu
Flag of France.svg Philippe Chantebel
Flag of France.svg Adrien Verger
Intendants Flag of France.svg Olivier Sanvers
Flag of France.svg Patrice Tahe
Team Manager Flag of France.svg Tom Lahaye


[ citation needed ]




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