Just a few days after I warmly recalled a memorable lunch with the veteran French football commentator Thierry Roland, I awoke today to news that he had died during the night at the age of 74.
Poor health – he had not fully recovered from a recent operation – had forced him to abandon plans to take part in the Euro 2012 coverage by the channel M6 – which had the rights to both of last night’s games – and it appears he suffered a stroke in the early hours of today.
He is being hailed in France today as a legendary figure of the country’s sporting commentary. He covered 13 World Cups and nine European championships in an admirable and sometimes tempestuous career. Naturally, not many of Salut! Sunderland‘s readers will have heard of him but I wanted to record his loss; it is the French equivalent of the death of Kenneth Wolstenholme. I have just written an 800-word newspaper report on tomorrow’s French elections but can tell you there is no doubt which is the bigger story here today.
Roland spoke English and loved English football. When we had lunch together in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower seven years ago, he told me the Eurostar had been a boon for his attendance at London games. He’d leave Paris first thing and be back in his own bed that night.
You can read more about him by looking back at this piece published here earlier in the week. https://safc.blog/2012/06/france-versus-england-and-a-french-john-motson-with-attitude/.
RIP Thierry, a man who lived and breathed football. I’m pleased that by all accounts his last evening was an enjoyable one, watching his M6 colleagues – doubtless with a professional’s critical eye – in their coverage of France’s comfortable victory over Ukraine.