Jean Tigana, The Magic Square, Premier League promotion and Fulham dismissal

He was part of what was called “The Magic Square”, French football’s rise to the stars with Alain Giresse, Michel Platine, Luis Fernandez and Jean Tigane becoming that four men midfield that was so impressive during the 80’s.

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Jean Tigane was a footballer that mostly settled the defensive part of a genius act seldom seen in football and you often discuss certain periods in football on what was the greatest of them all, certainly that French team could play football and despite winning the World Cup later, this era of their national team were close or even better.

Often it was Michel Platine grabbing the headlines, but this little Mali born footballer must not be faulted in anyway, his elegant moves, his terrier tackles and work rate was phenomenal.

Back then you seldom got to see your favorites from other nations as often as you liked and they turned up every 2nd year in the Euro’s or the World Cup’s and you got to see them again, doing their nation proud.

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Tigane seldom scored goals, but he set up a few for others. His only goal in the national team was scored against Hungary in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, where France finished third. Tigana did also participate in 1982, then finishing fourth.

He spent his entire career as a player in France, turning out for Toulon, Lyon, Bordeaux and Marseille. After his player career ended in 1991, he went into management and got his first job at his former club Lyon, then moving on to Monaco before being appointed manager at Fulham in April 2000, taking over from Kevin Keegan who had been offered the England job.

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Tigana was an instant success and with the backing of El Fayed he masterminded a promotion to the top flight and ended 13th in the first season back in the top flight since 1968. Tigana managed to establish the team and pick up a steady hand of points, but surprisingly was sacked in April 2003, after three years in charge at Craven Cottage.

Tigana introduced a number of players to the Premier League that really got their breakthrough at this level. Louis Saha, Steed Malbranque, Barry Hayles, John Collins, Edwin van der Sar, Bjarne Golbæk, Luis Boa Morte, Steve Finnan and Zat Knight were among those players to shine in the black and white kit.

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Zat Knight later made his England debut, playing twice in 2005 against USA and Columbia. This was the first time since the 60’s that a Fulham player played for England, the previous and last one was George Cohen, who we all know played in the 1966 World Cup final.

Tigana later had spells as manager with Besiktas, Bordaux and Shanghai Shenhua, but has not been seen in management since 2012. The now 64 year old Jean Tigana was a maestro on the field and he could probably have done a lot more at Fulham if given time, but his successors Chris Coleman and Roy Hodgson both managed the club in the best way possible keeping them floating in the Premier League and even reaching the UEFA Cup final in 2010, ending runners-up to Atletico Madrid.

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