After La Gaillette, the training center of RC Lens, we present to you the Robert Herbin Sports Center, more commonly known as “L’Etrat”, where young talents from AS Saint-Etienne are trained.
At the start of 2021, Actufoot is launching its “training center tour”. In order to better understand these poles of excellence where young footballers become men and professionals, the editorial staff offers a series of files on these centers.
Don’t call him L’Etrat anymore, officially. Since April 28, 2020 following the death of the green icon trained at the Robert Herbin club, the AS Saint-Etienne training center has been renamed in tribute to the player who became a coach who participated in the conquest of 15 of the 17 major titles de Sainté (editor’s note: French champion in 1964, 1967, 1968, 1969 and 1970 in the field, in 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1981 on the bench, winner of the Coupe de France in 1962, 1968 and 1970 in the field, in 1974, 1975 and 1977 on the bench). Located in the town of L’Étrat, as its name suggests, 6 km north of Saint-Étienne, the green nursery was inaugurated in April 1997 and also hosts the administrative services of the club, which owns the infrastructure since 2012 after their buyout from the Saint-Etienne metropolis for 6.2 million euros.
The leading training center in France
But the history of the Loire training starts long before. The club founded in 1919 by Geoffroy Guichard, founder of the Casino grocery store, whose history is rooted in the city’s working-class past, has always made training a major focus of development. With the arrival of Roger Rocher as president of the club in 1961, the club took shape and became the first in France to have a training center. The main players in ASSE’s unchallenged domination of football France in the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s will then emerge. From the Algerian artist Rachid Mekhloufi, who arrived from Sétif in 1954, to the prodigy Laurent Paganelli through Dominique Rocheteau, Christian Lopez and Gérard Janvion: it is all the work of Pierre Garonnaire, installed as a recruiter, unprecedented at the time, which is honored. The club recruits throughout France and does not hesitate to seek young players beyond the Rhône-Alpes region: Robert Herbin in Nice, the Revelli brothers in Gardanne, Jean-Michel Larqué in Pau, Christian Synaeghel in Dunkirk. , Dominique Rocheteau in La Rochelle, Laurent Roussey in Marzagues and Laurent Paganelli in Avignon to name a few.
Local implementation and long-term follow-up
Today, the method has changed and the club mainly focuses its observation efforts in the local population pool and on a few strong regions. The director of the training center, Philippe Guillemet explained at the microphone of France Bleu Loire in 2019: “We welcome young Saint-Etienne from football school like any amateur club around. At seven, eight or nine, there is room for ASSE, although it still requires a little detection. Afterwards, the youngsters are in pre-training, from U12 to U15. They are mainly local players and there are a few players from Auvergne Rhône-Alpes depending on what the regulations allow. Then there is the training center itself, from the U16s. They leave for a three-year school cycle. ” Another hobbyhorse of the green formation: “In Saint-Étienne, all of our observers have already been a coach, which is important. ”
A victory in Gambardella 21 years later
Proud of its history, ASSE has established partnerships with around fifteen clubs mainly located in the Loire and its neighboring departments of Puy-de-Dôme, Haute-Loire and Ardèche: Roannais Foot 42, US Feurs, AS Tefana, FC Montfermeil, AS Savigneux-Montbrison, Côte Chaude Sportif, FC Roche-St-Genest, FC Firminy Insersport, Olympique Saint Étienne, St Chamond Foot, Football in Mont Pilat, L’Étrat la tour Sportif, Chasse GS , ES Cannet-Rocheville, AS Montferrand, Le Puy Foot 43 Auvergne, Rhône Vallées FC. Each partner club benefits from the technical know-how and attractiveness of ASSE. In exchange, the Saint-Etienne training enriches its detection network and broadens its recruitment potential. A win-win system which seems to bear fruit in view of the very good results recorded by the young categories recently. We remember, for example, the victory in the Gambardella Cup in 2019 of the 2000-2001 generation coached by Razik Nedder, now in charge of the N3 reserve. A trophy that the club had been waiting for for 21 years. ” Just because we won the Gambardella doesn’t mean we’re the best in France, far from it. Gambardella is fragile. We played cleaver matches that could have tipped over to the other side but we knew we had youngsters with potential. We are happy to see them hatch but we must not fall asleep ” warns Philippe Guillemet.
” Rely on local young people? It’s a will “
Asked by FootMercato at the time, the director of the center detailed the recruitment process: ” Rely on local young people? It’s a will. We also need young people from outside, whether they are from the Paris region or PACA, which are the two regions where we work. The 2000-2001 promotions are what we would like to do all the time. But it’s not always easy. ” Unearthed in Clermont, forward Charles Abi embodies this desire to work with local players, without neglecting the contribution of elements from other regions. As the defender sold 35 million euros to Leicester last summer, Wesley Fofana, recruited from SC Bel-Air (Marseille) and holder alongside Abi in the Gambardella final won against Toulouse (2-0 ). “We are trying to keep our best players, the club have signed many professional contracts in the offseason with players we believe capable of playing at the highest level. ” insists the boss of L’Etrat, aware of the increasing pressure put by the big European teams to recover the best of them. Like Fofana, they are 22 players trained in Sainté to play today in a major European championship, raising the Saint-Etienne side to 11th place in the continent according to a study by the CIES, the football observatory. The project Green mine started in 2017 by Julien Sablé and Bernard David around three axes, the life project, the school project and the sports project, has undoubtedly had something to do with it.
“At L’Etrat we have a beautiful site where all the teams are gathered, from the U12s to the pros. There is a real closeness, a real club life. We’re not wasting time. When the little ones come for the detections, it marks the spirits. ” Here too, it is difficult to find fault with Philippe Guillemet when detailing the facilities of the 10 times French champion club. The Robert-Herbin sports center extends over an area of 13 hectares where there is a main building of 4,200 m² on three levels comprising 35 single or double rooms with shower, toilet and sink.
The sports facilities are concentrated around six fields and nine changing rooms with showers: a grassed field of honor of 105 meters by 68, a synthetic field (105 x 65 m), a grassed playground (140 x 140 m), three grassy playgrounds (140 x 70 m) and a lighted covered synthetic field (75 x 45 m) to which is added a weight room with bath, sauna, office for physiotherapist and doctor; a 1.2 km stabilized jogging track and two fields dedicated to ball tennis. Young green shoots can relax in a play and reading room. For the educational component, several meeting classrooms and a conference room are made available to center residents. The collective restaurant can accommodate 100 people in addition to a club restaurant with a capacity of 50 guests. At a time when the Saint-Etienne side could undergo an overhaul in its organization chart with the expected arrival of Laurent Huard at the head of the center, L’Etrat still has a bright future ahead of him.
The eleven history of players trained at ASSE
The eleven-type of players trained at ASSE still active