|Date of birth||28 October 1965|
|Place of birth||Aubenas, France|
|Height||1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)|
|Playing position||Midfielder; Sweeper|
Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league
† Appearances (Goals).
Franck Sauzée (born 28 October 1965) is a French former professional association football player and manager. He played 39 times for the French national team between 1988 and 1993, scoring nine goals and captaining the team several times. He achieved great success at club level during the same period, winning the 1993 UEFA Champions League Final and three league titles with Marseille. Later in his career he earned great plaudits for his performances for Scottish club Hibernian, who Sauzée subsequently managed for a short period. Since ending his active involvement in professional football, Sauzée has worked as a football pundit for French television networks.
Sauzée began his professional career with Sochaux, and made his league debut as a 17 year old in a match against FC Rouen in August 1983. The club were relegated to Ligue 2 in 1987, but won promotion back to Ligue 1 the following season. Sauzee also played in the 1988 Coupe de France Final, which Sochaux lost on penalties to FC Metz, during that promotion season.
Sauzée was transferred in 1988 to Marseille, where he enjoyed great success. During his first two year spell, the club won the French league championship in both seasons and the Coupe de France in 1989.
Sauzée then played for Monaco in one season, 1990–91. He helped the club, who were managed by Arsène Wenger, win the Coupe de France for the second time in Sauzée's career. In his absence, Marseille reached the 1991 European Cup Final, but lost on penalties to Red Star Belgrade.
Sauzée returned to Marseille in the summer of 1991, and continued to enjoy great success. The club won the 1992 league championship and with it entry to the European Cup, a competition that no French club had ever won. This was to change, however, as Marseille defeated AC Milan 1–0 in the 1993 UEFA Champions League Final. Sauzée had earlier scored a goal in a key group match against Rangers that helped secure their place in the Final. Sauzée was widely noted at this time for his shooting power from midfield.
The triumph, however, was largely overshadowed by a match fixing scandal. Marseille had also won the 1993 league championship, but were stripped of their title after club president Bernard Tapie was found guilty of bribing one of Marseille's opponents. It also meant that Marseille were not allowed to defend the European Cup in the following season.
The match fixing scandal at Marseille also had the consequence that the squad started to break up, with Sauzée being transferred to Serie A club Atalanta. This spell was unsuccessful, however, as coach Francesco Guidolin was sacked after just 10 games, while Sauzée himself only scored one goal and made 16 appearances. The club eventually finished second bottom of the league and were consequently relegated to Serie B.
Despite his success in France he is probably most highly regarded by the supporters of Scottish club Hibernian, for whom he was club captain from 1999 until the end of his playing career in 2002. Under his guidance as captain, Hibernian regained their place in the Scottish Premier League and reached the 2001 Scottish Cup Final. Hibs also finished third in the league in 2001, and therefore qualified for the UEFA Cup.
Sauzée is an Easter Road legend and is known as "Le God" and "Dieu" by the Hibs fans, who voted him as their all time cult hero in a Football Focus poll carried out in 2005. Sauzée particularly enjoyed Edinburgh derby matches against Hearts. He scored in the 3–0 "Millennium derby" win at Tynecastle, and he also scored a headed goal in a 3–1 win while being knocked unconscious by an opponent's challenge. Hearts failed to beat Hibs in any match that Sauzée played in or managed.
Irvine Welsh named Sauzée as his all time favourite Hibs player, despite having seen greats such as Pat Stanton, Joe Baker and George Best. During his time as a player at Hibs, Sauzée was converted from a midfielder to sweeper. Welsh describes his attributes as follows:
|“||At Hibs, his legs may
have been heavier than of old, but like all gifted footballers
easing into the veteran years, he made up for this with his
incredible vision and anticipation. Sauzee invariably sensed
exactly where the ball was going next and made everything look so
easy. Instead of dictating from the midfield, he stepped back to do
it from the sweeper's position, yet still loved to surge forward
and was always a goal threat.
Striding on to the park like a casual colossus, his presence was simultaneously an inspiration and a calming influence on those around him, both on the field and in the stands. Some players often appear bigger than their chosen sport; they have a grace and presence that seems to throw aside the shackles of its limitations. Franck Sauzee possessed the bearing of a man who truly understood not just the beautiful game, but the world in general and his place in it.
After the departure of manager Alex McLeish to Rangers during December 2001, Sauzée was appointed the first foreign manager of Hibernian. He was only the second person outside of Scotland to manage the club, and the first since 1919. The appointment came as something of a surprise because the Hibs board of directors had only met the previous day to discuss possible replacements for McLeish. Sauzee, who had been suffering from an achilles tendon injury in the weeks beforehand, announced his retirement from playing in an effort to concentrate on his new job.
His time in charge was unsuccessful, however. Hibs only won one match in 15, and none in the Scottish Premier League. A win for last-placed club St. Johnstone apparently prompted his sacking in February 2002, after just 69 days as Hibs manager. After his sacking, Sauzée stated that he had no fear that Hibs would be relegated. This confidence was justified as Hibs defeated St. Johnstone 3–0 in Bobby Williamson's first match in charge, and the club comfortably avoided relegation. The extremely brief nature of his tenure meant that it was not proven whether Sauzée would have been a good manager or not. Many Hibs fans, including former player Alan Gordon, wrote to The Scotsman newspaper to voice their disapproval of Hibs' treatment of Sauzée.
Sauzée won 39 caps for France between 1988 and 1993, scoring nine goals. He served as the captain of the national side in nine of those matches, and played in the 1992 European Championship Finals. He was also part of the France under–21 team that won the 1988 European Championship. What proved to be Sauzée's last match for the France senior team ended in great disappointment, however, as the team were defeated 2–1 by Bulgaria at the Parc des Princes. The defeat meant that France failed to qualify for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, despite the side containing other notable players such as Eric Cantona, Laurent Blanc, Marcel Desailly, Didier Deschamps and Jean-Pierre Papin.
|1||19 November 1988||Partizan Stadium, Belgrade||Yugoslavia||2–1||2–3||1990 WCQ|
|2||28 March 1990||Nepstadion, Budapest||Hungary||3–1||3–1||Friendly|
|3||20 February 1991||Parc des Princes, Paris||Spain||1–1||3–1||1992 ECQ|
|4||30 March 1991||Parc des Princes, Paris||Albania||1–0||5–0||1992 ECQ|
|6||14 August 1991||Stadion Miejski, Poznań||Poland||1–1||5–1||Friendly|
|7||28 July 1993||Stade Michel d'Ornano, Caen||Russia||1–0||3–1||Friendly|
|8||22 August 1993||Råsunda Stadium, Stockholm||Sweden||1–0||1–1||1994 WCQ|
|9||13 October 1993||Parc des Princes, Paris||Israel||1–1||2–3||1994 WCQ|
Sauzée returned to his native France after leaving Hibernian, and has sinced worked as a football pundit on French television. He initially worked for Canal+, a position he held for six years. Besides providing analysis for televised matches, Sauzée also appeared on a Monday night football talk show. Sauzée left Canal+ in 2008 to take a similar position with Orange, who had acquired rights to cover Ligue 1 matches.