Nguyen Quang Hai, Vietnamese Madness with Béarnaise Sauce / France / Bao / SOFOOT.com

In Ho Chi Minh country, he is an icon and an idol. A true star of Vietnamese football, Nguyen Quang Hai finally received permission to leave the domestic league to export his talent to Europe. More precisely in Ligue 2, in Pau FC which, since then, has been accompanied by the crazy enthusiasm of an impressive community of fans.

In France, the news went almost unnoticed. On June 29, as transfer window rumors swirled around Frenkie de Jong’s possible departure for Manchester United or that, just as hypothetically, Ravenha for Chelsea, Pau formalized the signing of a new midfielder. It is not enough, a priori, to stir up crowds, nor to ignite the web. However … more than 10,000 km away, in Vietnam, the announcement of this transfer caused a sensation among fans of the ball and made the front page of the sports media. It must be said that in the land of phở and bún, Nguyễn Quang Hải – because it revolves around it – is not just one. “He’s the starconfirms to Philippe Troussier, the former Vietnam U-19 coach and expert on Asian football. He’s a beautiful player you see, technically talented and very accurate on set pieces. » So much so that he bears the wonderful and evocative nickname “Vietnamese Messi”.

“From the stands, we are not used to seeing this kind of player. He knows how to make others play and he deserves to develop to a higher level for a few years.” Philip Troussier

“It’s a good, good comparisonsays the former OM coach. Already because he is a young, left-handed player, he has real dribbling skills and is, in addition, a great passer. From the stands, we’re not used to seeing this kind of player. He knows how to make others play and deserves to evolve to a higher level for a few years. » Since 2015, the prodigy has already been under contract with Hanoi T&T FC, which was only released in mid-April. There, contracts do not have the same meaning as in our European clubsTracey continues. Players are under the control of the club in one form or another for life. Quang Hải has been living in plants for 3-4 years. It’s good that he left, otherwise he would have buried himself very slowly. » It was announced soon Metz O’Neam, the head of the Golden Star Warriors’ surreal, so he finally signed up for Pau’s formation, also in the second division. Far from home, of course. But his countless fans likely have no intention of taking their eyes off him.

Wenger, predecessor

Football is a religion in Vietnam. It is the most popular sportasks Khanh, an expat in France for years, Ligue 1 consultant for state television and deputy director of Paris Saint-Germain department stores. In 2018, when the U-23 team reached the AFC Asian Cup final, we were 45 million in front of the TV (Of the 95 million people at the time, editor’s note) ! “Some companies have even forced their employees not to work on match days.” , recalls Phan, a resident of Ho Chi Minh City and CEO of Club House Films (which produces advertising content or films). However, the country was not at all destined to be passionate about football. For many years, the American blockade, as a direct result of the victory of the Communists during the Vietnam War (1955-1975), prevented the local population from being interested in Western sports. When it was lifted, it was thanks to Arsene Wenger that the country recognized the King of Sports. Under his leadership, Arsenal signed a partnership with Hoàng Anh Gia Lai club and opened an academy that brought in many players who play in the V-League (Vietnamese First Division).

“Nguyen is a human billboard. Everyone wants to have it, it is one of the most bankable.” Van, a businessman in Ho Chi Minh City

Quang Hải is from Hanoi and until then played for the best club in the country. But his bad reputation doesn’t come from there. “National fibers are very strong. Club football is less interesting” Khan continues. If the New Bernese is an icon, it’s because he is the hub of the national team. His fame is like that Many children bear his name. , says Linh, 20, a Hanoi resident and media intern. For Van, “Nguyen is a human bulletin board. Everyone wants to have it, it is one of the most things bankable. But besides, he is a good kid. For example, at the end of games, his first instinct is to ask where his mother is, a hardworking worker. » The symbol of this “golden” generation dedicated to pacifying the country and turning the page on past conflicts, the 25-year-old has everything to please. So much so that the airport of the capital was crowded with his departure for France, and the atmosphere was completely different, as a whole country wishes him to succeed.

“It’s so amazing what happened. Even the people who live in Hanoi took the stadium tickets!” Antoine Perpignan, Director of Communications and Marketing at Pau Football Club

From 21,000 to 230,000 subscribers in 36 hours

Once Nguyễn Quang Hải’s signature became official, Pau FC and its staff faced a massive wave of enthusiasm and lures, particularly on social networks. In a day and a half, the club’s Facebook page went from 21,000 to … more than 230,000 subscribers (over 365,000 at last count). “We were a little afraid of being passed over for the first 24 hoursstrikes by Antoine Perpignan, director of communications and marketing at PFC. It’s so amazing what happened. Fan clubs have been set up almost everywhere, without permission. Even the people living in Hanoi took the stadium tickets! “In Vietnam, now, we will be able to locate Bao on the mapPhilip Trousse smiles. I think it’s a good deal for Palois: they have chosen a very good international player who will have a huge impact on the media level. » It is rumored, moreover, that the companies have already reached out to Bearn leaders, with a view to establishing partnerships in the future. “We are not closing any doors.cautiously admits Antoine Perpignan. Our goal remains to increase the club’s budget, so if there is an opportunity, why not. But our desire remains to continue to work in stability. » Before adding: “There are high expectations for Quang Hải, but we have to keep our feet on the ground. Our goal is to stay in Ligue 2. We are not in the Vietnam Championship, and it is not these fans who will fill our stadium every two weeks.”

From Bao’s side, we insist on one point: the Vietnamese international is there to bring real added sporting value, not to entertain the show or to act as Marketing Object . And if the player chose to land not far from the Pyrenees when they had other trails, then perhaps it was no accident. “We are a family club, on a human scaleAntoine Perpignan says: In addition, the Vietnamese community is limited here. So I think he’d really be able to thrive without being stressful, and that’s probably what guided his choice. » The communications team has yet to respond to several requests from the East Asian media to give Quang Hải time to integrate into his new team. He is accompanied by an interpreter daily, but he intends to learn French soon. According to Philippe Troussier, the challenge will be to give him enough time to adapt. At first, Quang Hải will have language problems and cultural adjustmentswarns. It won’t be easy at all. I know Didier Thelot well, whom I met when I was a coach at INF Vichy. He is a very human person, and he will know how to create the environment in which the player is satisfied. » The Aung Anh County native was interested in sending the first positive signals: at the end of a one-week training at St Paul-les-Daxes, he opened his meter in a friendly match against a select group of Landes (5-0).

Didier Thulot, coach of FC Bau

Trafficking in counterfeit shirts

To what extent, from now on, will the slaves of Nguyễn Quang Hải be passionate about Pau FC matches? Khanh, who works for VTV Onsport, broadcaster of the French championship, partially answers this question: We will not make any special arrangements for Quang Hải matches. It is very difficult for journalists to obtain French visas, and logistical problems are obvious. » In addition, going to France is expensive for usLinh’s clutches. But I think expats sometimes go onto the field to support him. Anyway, we can’t wait to see him play! » I’m starting to get that excited. in an amazing way. The country’s low standard of living (about $230 a month) has led to an explosion in the derivatives black market. Including the imitation Pau t-shirts scattered on the Internet. “If someone told me, six months ago, that we would see fake T-shirts from our club appear… that’s crazyAntoine Perpignan laughs. However, we have changed suppliers, and our uniforms have not been released yet! » Another facet of the new and unexpected notoriety affecting Paw Football Club.

By Raphael Bruce and Emmanuel Huarau
All comments compiled by RB and EH.
Banner photo: © Pau FC

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