Winger Georges Bereta, on the right, wearing the Saint-Etienne jersey, during the Coupe de France final against Nantes, at the Yves-du-Manoir Olympic stadium in Colombes, May 31, 1970. STR / AFP
One of the best French footballers of the early 1970s, Georges Bereta has died aged 77. He was a centerpiece of AS Saint-Étienne, the dominant club of the time, but he left the Greens too soon to be fully associated with their European epic.
Captain of the Greens and the France team, this native of Saint-Etienne succumbed to a long illness, the club announced on Tuesday evening July 4.
In January 1975, ASSE, in the grip of financial difficulties, had no hesitation in transferring its captain, then 28 years old and at the top of his game, to Marseille for the enormous sum at that time. of 500,000 francs.
It was therefore without him that the Stéphanois reached the semi-finals of the European Cup of champion clubs that season, then the final in 1976, beaten twice by Bayern Munich.
Until then, this twirling left winger had played his full part in the exploits of his hometown. In one of the most famous, the overthrow of Hajduk Split 5-1 at Geoffroy-Guichard after a 4-1 defeat in Yugoslavia, in the round of 16, two months before his transfer, he had scored a goal from the penalty spot .
The player had a stubborn grudge against President Roger Rocher, guilty of having preferred him “the money offered by OM” and to whom he never spoke again, and against coach Robert Herbin “who had done nothing to prevent [son] departure “.
Neither the tripling of his salary on his arrival in Marseille nor, much later, his inclusion on the list of thirteen “lifetime ambassadors” of AS Saint-Étienne could not lessen his bitterness. “The European Cup, I contributed a lot to it and I had prepared for it”he will say.
Six times champion of France
The son of a Polish immigrant, this short player (1.66 m) had joined Saint-Étienne at the age of 14 and, alongside sport, trained as a gunsmith, a profession he practiced as a polisher of rifles until the age of 18, before becoming a professional footballer from 1966.
« Paris 2024 »
“Le Monde” deciphers the news and the challenges of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
However, we had not always believed in him. “Bereta has too big thighs, he can’t run and will never be a footballer”, said Saint-Etienne coach Jean Snella. On the other hand, Hervé Revelli, the emblematic center-forward of the Greens with whom he had done his national service, was a decisive support at the start of his career.
The left winger took off under the management of Albert Batteux (1967-1972) then Herbin, playing 343 matches with Saint-Étienne for a total of 68 goals until December 1974, before playing 96 with OM (10 goals).
At the same time, he obtained 44 selections (4 goals) in the French team between 1967 and 1975, but again Bereta was not in the right car because the Blues were in the trough of the wave, missing the World Cup two times (1970, 1974).
At national level, his record is rich with six French championship titles (1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1975) and four French Cups (1968, 1970, 1974 with Saint-Étienne and 1976 with OM). ).