Sampaoli heads in the air, Longoria in a booth with the players, behind the scenes of the Marseille party after 2nd place

The party was wild in Marseille as second place in Ligue 1 was snatched by OM at the last minute on Saturday night and to celebrate qualifying for the Champions League group stage. With some memorable scenes.

OM celebrated this return to the Champions League as it should. There was a mixture of madness and community on the lawn in the ranks of Marseille. Some great Olympic nights have not always radiated this sense of unity, happiness and lightness. An unbelievable scenario, a happy ending and scenes of joy galore in a Velodrome stadium full like an egg well into the night. Children, women, families, friends of the players, all united and smiling on the lawn. It is 11 p.m., the stadium capsized minutes earlier when Lens equalized against Monaco.

Suddenly Payet yells, “Is there a Lens goal or not?!”

In the presidential gallery, Dimitri Payet (injured) and William Saliba (suspended) are the first to sound the alarm, their eyes glued to the defender’s phone. Payet sees the Lensois goal, but doesn’t dare to believe it and starts shouting: “Is there a Lens goal or not?!” Everyone is trying to refresh their phone, but regulars at the Orange Vélodrome know that the connection there can be erratic at times… and no one dares to confirm the good news.

In 2018, the Vélodrome received a false rumor about a Lyon goal. This time the doubt lasted only a few seconds. The Velodrome screams, jumps, cheers. On Saliba’s phone, the Monegasques are on the ground, and the Lensois are celebrating. To the Marseillais to do the same.

Sampaoli, Longoria, Payet, a three star hug

Pablo Longoria descends on the lawn at a speed never recorded in the spans of the Velodrome. He joins sporting director David Friio, who was the first to approach the bench, to ensure the staff had the information that a 5-0 could send OM straight to second without Lens having to equalize. After being carried by Matteo Guendouzi, Jorge Sampaoli falls into the arms of Payet and Longoria. This is the photo of the evening. The chairman of the Public Prosecution Service is in tears.

The hug between OM coach Jorge Sampaoli and Matteo Guendouzi, May 21, 2022
The hug between OM coach Jorge Sampaoli and Matteo Guendouzi, 21 May 2022 © ICON Sport

The other memorable shot was almost unimaginable: Frank McCourt arrives on the lawn and jumps into Guendouzi’s arms. The music of the Champions League barely covers the “Aux Armes” and the chants of Marseille supporters.

Saliba was therefore suspended, but he came in shorts. He hasn’t had his share of the effort and decides to run everywhere from the north turn to the south turn. Earlier in the evening, he had made the staff laugh as he naturally positioned himself next to OM’s physical trainer to animate the warm-up. He shouts: “We are second, my face!” The French international is happy, like a child.

“He who does not jump is not Marseille” between club employees!

Public Prosecution Service chairman Frank McCourt greets Steve Mandanda, May 21, 2022
OM chairman Frank McCourt greets Steve Mandanda, May 21, 2022 © ICON Sport

Kids are everywhere, right, adding a touch of sweetness to this euphoric evening. Amine Harit’s daughter plays with Sampaoli. McCourt’s gets to know the coach’s son. Football matches are improvised between children. The shareholder is delighted, he cheers on the supporters and is undoubtedly having one of his best evenings since buying OM in 2016. Bouba Kamara lives his last in the OM sweater and gives the family a sense of duty. While communications director Jacques Cardoze films everything that moves to immortalize these jubilant scenes, especially the Brazilians Luan Peres and Gerson dancing and enjoying… The hug is warm between Jorge Sampaoli and Steve Mandanda, after a season not always clear for the goalkeeper, replaced behind Pau Lopez.

Valentin Rongier confided that he had tears of joy, “moved to belong to this group”. There will also be emotion during a speech by Pablo Longoria to some fifty employees, in the presidential lounge. The chairman, who was very stressed during the match, talks about the highlights of the season and his chairmanship. He insists on this sense of pride that anyone can feel, living in Marseille or working for OM. His speech ends with a song… between co-workers, arm in arm, all buzzing “Qui saute pas n’est pas marseillais!” to sing. Incredible time.

Sampaoli almost forgot the press conference

Pablo Longoria and Frank McCourt also speak in the dressing room, in a wild atmosphere. Matteo Guendouzi ignites for the journalists: “We are second!!!”… while the press officers are looking for Jorge Sampaoli. Even his wife has lost sight of him!

“Donde esta Jorge?!” The Argentinian, still in a daze, has lost some reflexes. He’s already in his car… and forgot to show up for the press conference! The communications director overtakes him in extremis. Sampaoli thanks his players and is pleased that he has given the Vélodrome emotions until the last second. He leaves the press room with a smile and a big “yes” when RMC Sport a mischievous “See you next year, coach?” throws.

A standing ovation for McCourt… at “The Red Lion” pub!

The Marseille party with McCourt, Longoria and Cardoze, May 22, 2022
The Marseille party with McCourt, Longoria and Cardoze, May 22, 2022 © The Red Lion

The evening will take place in some night establishments in Marseille. Frank McCourt invites his family and his American associates to a restaurant in the 8th arrondissement. Other employees left for a few drinks at a well-known pub in Pointe Rouge, on the edge of the beaches.

Pablo Longoria prepares to leave the Bostonian to join his teams there. “Where are you going?” McCourt asks. “At the Red Lion,” Longoria replies. “Okay, I’m coming with you!” And here’s the American billionaire dividing Saturday night’s crowd, supporters and students. Customers hallucinate. Wearing his tracksuit, the owner of OM is greeted by a guard of honor and “McCourt! McCourt! McCourt!!!”. The shareholder is pumped up by such recognition and such zeal. “It’s not a trophy but it’s a nice win,” said someone close to McCourt. That he experienced these emotions in Marseille and with his family is unique to him.”

Longoria in disco with a dozen players

All these beautiful people order champagne and proudly pose for a photo. Pablo Longoria, long acclaimed by all the supporters he meets along the way, will then dance with Steve Mandanda and his teammates in a small disco with a dozen players.

This Sunday the voices of many Olympians were heard. “We were all exhausted, the week was tough, there were injuries, but this group has something different, an extra soul, trust an intimate of the dressing room. But we knew it could be played at the last minute of the last game. ” .” The denouement even happened… at the last minute.