Monday 17 September 2018, 23:34

Pedros: Having fun is a core concept at Lyon

  • Reynald Pedros is a finalist for The Best FIFA Women’s Coach award

  • Steered Lyon to the French league and UEFA Champions League titles last season

  • "Lyon job offers everything I love in football"

Reynald Pedros has a gift for football. A talented player in his day, the former France midfielder (four goals in 25 appearances) had spells with Nantes, Olympique Marseille and Napoli in a career that ran from 1990 to 2004, since when he has shown his innate understanding of the game in his first coaching job.

Appointed coach of Olympique Lyonnais’ women team in May 2017, he ended last season with the French league and UEFA Women’s Champions League titles to his name, with his side’s only defeat of the sporting year coming in the final of the Coupe de France. His stunning debut in the l’OL hotseat has earned Pedros a place among the three finalists for The Best FIFA Women's Coach award for 2018.

The word “gift” has another meaning in the case of Pedros, however. A selfless player who was twice voted the best passer in Ligue 1 (in 1994 and 1995) before becoming a coach who lives for his players – as he showed with his heartfelt tears at the end of the second leg of their Champions League semi-final last season – he is someone who likes to give, whether it is pleasure, excitement or a sparkling performance.

The pleasure of giving

Pedros’ appointment as Gerard Precheur’s successor at Lyon took many people by surprise. Having been out of coaching after a three-year stint with Saint Pryvé-Saint Hilaire in the French fourth tier ended in 2012, he was working as a TV pundit when Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas invited him to make a return to the dugout.

“I had no hesitation in accepting,” Pedros told “Coaching Lyon means working with a high-quality team towards the very highest objectives and getting and giving pleasure in the process. It’s a position that offers everything I love in football. It’s not easy to get all those things in one job but I’ve found them here.”

Nantes’ midfield engine

It is a recipe reminiscent of the one that brought Nantes success during his time there in the 1990s. Les Canaris and their attractive brand of football, based on a short, fast passing game famously known as le jeu à la Nantaise, brought entertainment and results.

“It’s something that we are trying to replicate here, as far as we can,” explained Pedros, who has Charles Devineau, who worked in the Nantes youth system, as his assistant at l’OL. “Having fun is a core concept here, just as it was at Nantes. The aim is to enjoy ourselves in working together, suffering together and winning together.”

The best according to Pedros

Your best memory as a player? Winning the league with Nantes in 1995 Your best memory as an international? My France debut, against Russia in 1993 Your best memory of last year? Signing for Olympique Lyonnais The best player you ever played with? Japhet Ndoram The best coach you ever had? Jean-Claude Suaudeau The best club you ever played for? Nantes The best player in your eyes? Lionel Messi

A near-perfect record

His team’s results and performances speak for themselves. In their own flamboyant way, Lyon added two more titles to the club’s long list of honours in a season in which they lost just the once, 1-0 to Paris Saint-Germain in the Coupe de France final.

“In winning the Champions League and the French championship, he’s been able to show all the qualities he has as a coach,” Camille Abily, who played under Pedros last season, told “He’s a very cool manager and he’s very open too. It’s great to see him among the finalists for the best coach award.”

A player’s coach

With their latest triumphs, Lyon have now won 12 consecutive league titles and three straight Champions League crowns, out of their five wins in the competition altogether. The club’s thirst for success remains unquenched, however.

“My players are born competitors and there’s no question of them easing off,” added Pedros. “They have no desire to be second. They’ve got a status they want to protect and they give their all in doing that. We’re here to help them by bringing our experience to bear without trying to change things either. We wanted to ensure continuity while making our own little contributions.”

That is Pedros in a nutshell: the man who cannot stop giving. The time has now come for him to start receiving, and what better way to begin doing that than with an award for being The Best?