Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Player Profile: Sylvain Armand

Name: Sylvain Armand
DOB: August 1 1980
Former Clubs: St Etienne, Clermont, Nantes
Signed: June 2004, undisclosed
International: Full French international

On my second ever visit to the Parc des Princes, in April 2010, PSG were entertaining then Ligue 1 champions Bordeaux.

With the score at 0-0 in the 31st minute, visiting keeper Ulrich Rame was sent off for handball giving PSG a free kick outside the box.

Up stepped a rugged looking defender going by the name of Sylvain Armand, who proceeded to welly the ball through the wall and into the net to score the opening goal.

It was one of nine goals the 31-year-old has scored in his seven years at PSG, during which time he has become a firm fans favourite.

Young Sylvain started his career in the academy of St Etienne, but was released at the end of his scholarship, and had to defect to Clermont in 1999 in order to get some first team football under his belt.

After just one season at the Stade Gabriel Montpied he had already caught the eye of bigger clubs, and the following summer he was on his way to then Ligue 1 side Nantes.

He probably didn’t imagine at the time that 12 months later he would be collecting a title winners medal, as Les Canaris romped away with the Championship under the stewardship of Raynald Denoueix.

This gave Armand the chance to play in the Champions League, and although Nantes didn’t make waves in the competition, the left-back notched this sexy goal against Lazio, which probably helped bring him to the attention of Europe’s bigger clubs.

It was also around then that he hit the headlines for alleged spitting incident involving Manchester United’s Ruud van Nistelrooy.

“I lost my mind a little bit because of an incident that happened on the pitch with their left-back,” said Ol’ Horseface.

“I got a bit annoyed in the tunnel. You don't often see that with me. It had been something on the pitch. I don't like to mention it because it was quite dirty. It had nothing to do with football.”

Armand denied expelling any fluids in RVN’s direction, and indeed the incident didn’t stop Sir Alex, along with Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers, expressing an interest in bringing him to the Premier League.

But he remained at Nantes until June 2004, when he and team-mate Mario Yepes made the switch to PSG.

Faced with the daunting task of replacing Gabby Heinze, who had moved to Manchester United, Armand was philosophical.

“I like Heinze,” he said. “The comparisons will come inevitably because he left his mark at PSG. He has qualities that I do not and vice versa.”

Since then the Rouges-et-Bleu fans have come to appreciate Armand’s qualities, and he has racked up over 300 appearances, staying loyal to the club through the bad times despite strong interest from the then all-conquering Lyon.

Named player of the year in 2006/07, he initially forming a strong left-sided partnership with Jerome Rothen. However in recent seasons he has become something of a utility player, having been deployed in the centre of defence and in midfielder since Antoine Kombouare took over.

In the course of researching this profile, I found a couple of other amusing things.
Firstly, the La Strada restaurant in Nantes has created a Pizza Armand in his honour, though I’m unsure of the toppings.

Secondly, he has his own website, which features an amusing biography section. Here we learn that Sylvain’s biggest weakness is gluttony (“at home, there are always treats at hand”) and that his dislikes include discrimination, injustice, and, er, aluminium foil.

What a guy. I’ll leave the last word to the man himself, who said upon making his 300th appearance for PSG: “I’ve had seven seasons here and had many beautiful times. More difficult times too, but I have no regrets. I won titles with PSG and that's all I remember. I hope to play many more matches in the Red and Blue.”


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