This Article is the first in a series about the coolest players of all time. And the coolest for us, is Chris “Magic” Waddle.
Chris Waddle, for those of you who don’t know him, was Olympique de Marseille’s biggest star of the early 90’s.
I won’t rewrite his wikipedia page, but I have to give you a few figures first, 62 selections for the England team and 27 impressives goals for Marseille between 1989 and 1992. Bernard Tapie bought him from Spurs for a record amount at the time of £4.5 million which made him the 3rd biggest transfer of all time (behind Maradona and Ruud Gullit).
His start in Marseille was not great , particularly because he was not physically ready. He was suffering from the Mediterranean heat and everybody thought the club had made a mistake recruiting him. Eric Di Meco said on the radio in 2016 that “When Waddle arrived in Marseille, we were wondering if he really was a football player (…) he wasn’t physically prepared”.
It was after 2 months of being trained by Gérard Gili that he really revealed his true self. And Before the end of 1989, Waddlemania began… for 3 reasons:
- his brilliant play
- his humble but funny attitude
- his haircut
In Marseille, it was madness…He was chased in the street like a rock star and all my 4th grade class got the famous Waddle « mullet » haircut (in french: « la coupe à la Waddle ») . And when I say all of the class I’m not exagerating… even the girls! This hairstyle’s success depended on the parents, their financial means and the kid’s type of hair. Some of them looked like a hedgehog from the front and Tina Tuner from the back; some unfortunate others, the curly haired ones, looked like sheep with their sides sheared and with straight, bowl-cut fringes. But kids were happy, they played football at school breaktimes yelling “anaouaneagain” pretending they could speak english, this is what everybody should remember from this period 😉
Let’s recap, his haircut was like this:
No words are needed to explain why his game was brilliant and why the trio of Waddle/Papin/Francescoli is regarded as one of the best attacks in Europe of all time, just watch this short 3 mins video:
For the cool attitude part, I will give you 2 particular examples of behaviour.
First of all, he invented the « swim on the pitch » 🙂 (now players are salting steaks… could we please bring back the classics… ).
Secondly, if he was not happy with himself, he was miming the donkey (you can see it in the movie above). Well, the guy never took himself serously, always smiling, he was and always will be acclaimed in all of the french stadiums, even by the Paris fans who are Marseille’s worst ennemies…
The most cult moment is the goal he scored against AC Milan in the semi final of the European Cup in 1991, which gave victory to his team. Words can’t do it justice so here is the video:
Most extraordinary of all is that he can’t remember the goal at all! Taking two knocks on the head whilst challenging for balls with Milan players, he went to hospital with concussion later in the night… after ten days recovery, he arrived back on the pitch considered by Marseille fans a war hero!!
Of course, all good things come to an end and he left Marseille after 3 seasons. I listen to him now on the BBC with great pleasure where he comments on Premier League and FA Cup games.
Chris Waddle is definitively a great example of success (he was working in a saussages and meat pie factory when he was 16 ) with humility. He is, after all, the Coolest of the Cool…
We’ve been going through the web just in case you would like to adopt a style « à la Waddle »:
If you want to learn more about our friend Chris or if you are nostalgic for this time, we recommend this documentary, quite long but so good…
Here it is then friends, if you too have, like me, a passion for Chris Waddle or if you have had » la coupe à la Waddle « , or if you want to suggest anything to me, please leave a comment.
(ps: sometimes I’m glad, and my hair too, that Valderama didn’t turn up to play in Marseille when I was in 4th grade)