On May 20, 2012, AJ Auxerre played their last Ligue 1 match in a chaotic atmosphere against Montpellier, who were on their way to a historic title. After 32 consecutive seasons in the top flight and many memorable moments, the small Gallic village, shaped not by Asterix and Obelix but by Guy Roux, sank into the second division. The fall was difficult, with in particular two consecutive takeovers, first by a Luxembourg investment fund and then by a Chinese group, ORG Packaging. Nevertheless, AJA ended up regaining stability and can finally project itself towards Ligue 1.

On the side of the Abbé-Deschamps stadium, the flame has returned. The last three home games of the season were sold out. All that remains is to pass the Saint-Étienne obstacle in the play-off… Before this deadline against the Greens, here are five reasons which explain why AJA remains a special team in French football.

When you think of Auxerre, it’s hard not to associate him immediately with this club. Like Louis Nicollin with Montpellier, Guy Roux will have been the man of a club. Coach of the AJA from 1961 to 2005, with a short break during the 2000-2001 season, the emblematic coach knew how to make a name for himself with his qualities as a trainer, his outspokenness and his titles, such as the historic double championship – cut in 1996. In 1993, Fidel Castro had even offered him to become coach of Cuba. With his own way of monitoring the activities of his players off the field, especially in nightclubs, Guy Roux managed to have eyes and ears everywhere. He even checked the speedometers of his players’ cars, in the morning during training, to check that there had been no discrepancy… It’s hard to imagine today a Mauricio Pochettino or a Christophe Galtier doing the same .

In the early 2000s, a wind of freshness and youth blew over the plains of Burgundy in Yonnaise. As its name suggests, the AJA (Association de la jeunesse auxerroise) knows how to give pride of place to its hopes. Twenty years ago, France notably discovered Djibril Cissé with his spectacular goals and eccentric hairstyles. The striker will make a name for himself amid the Pauleta, Anderson, Drogba and Nonda who are waging a fierce battle to finish top of the scoring charts. We can also mention Philippe Mexès, Jean-Alain Boumsong and Olivier Kapo, who will experience the joys of the France team. The AJA carried by its young people will also win two French Cups, in 2003 and 2005.

On the continental scene, AJ Auxerre had 20 appearances. There were memorable performances such as the 1992-1993 UEFA Cup, with qualification against Dennis Bergkamp’s Ajax, but also a prestigious victory against Arsenal at Highbury in 2002. There were also moments of controversy. Difficult then not to think of the quarter of the Champions League 1996-1997 and the superb return refused to Lilian Laslandes against Dortmund. An episode that will bring Guy Roux out of his hinges with a controversial sentence aimed at the Austrian referee Günter Benkö: “We cannot choose a referee of this nationality to direct a match against Germans, the two countries have too long a common history . And too many heroes in common… I was talking about Mozart, of course, “concluded the Burgundy coach in front of a dumbfounded audience.

How to refuse this marvel from L.Laslandes (Auxerre/Dortmund..) “Depending on whether you are powerful or miserable..” huh �� pic.twitter.com/Rg8oqjOhgs

It might just be a dress detail for some, but for others it means a lot. At the beginning of the century, AJA wore a sober and minimalist white jersey, but several details took it to a new dimension. The equipment manufacturer Kappa played a lot, but it is especially the PlayStation sponsor that leaves the most memories. For six seasons, the Sony console accompanied the daily life of Guy Roux and his protégés. Today, jerseys from that era are increasingly difficult to find, and expensive… A sign that nostalgia is still having its effect.

With François Pignon, interpreted by Jacques Villeret and supporter of the AJA, Le Dîner de cons by Francis Veber also offered a beautiful sounding board to the Yonne club. The cinema even invited itself directly to the Abbé-Deschamps with the film Coup de tête, which had notably filmed a match of the Auxerrois in the presence of Patrick Dewaere, main actor in the feature film by Jean-Jacques Annaud. Les Guignols de l’info also contributed to the popularity of Auxerre by presenting in particular a Guy Roux very close to his money. Finally, the video game is not to be outdone since the legendary coach also had a few titles to his name: Guy Roux Manager, a series of nine games published from 1993 to 2006. Who has never dreamed of directing Fabien Cool and Stephane Guivarc’h?