Bruno Metsu, Coach Who Took Senegal on World Cup Run, Dies at 59
Ali Haider/European Pressphoto Agency
By DANIEL E. SLOTNIK
Published: October 16, 2013
Bruno Metsu, a French soccer coach who led Senegal’s national team in an exhilarating and improbable run to the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals, died Tuesday. He was 59.
The cause was cancer, according to a post on the Web site for UEFA, soccer’s European governing body. La Voix du Nord, a French newspaper, said Metsu had died in Dunkirk, France.
Metsu, whose long and unruly blond curls were a rarity in a sport known for fastidiously groomed coaches, was a midfielder for European teams for nearly two decades and coached for 13 years before moving to Africa in 2000, where he was given the nickname the White Sorcerer. He began managing Senegal later that year, and the team, known as the Lions of Teranga, jelled around his relaxed but inspiring coaching style.
Senegal surprised most of Africa by defeating Nigeria to reach the final of the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations. It lost to Cameroon on penalty kicks in the championship game, but another startling upset was in store.
Senegal had never played in the World Cup finals, and few thought the team would survive its opening game in 2002, in which it faced heavily favored France, the defending champion. Some members of the French team, as well as high-profile players on other teams, publicly dismissed the Senegalese.
In a passionate speech to the team before the game, Metsu used the disparaging comments to stir his players.
“When I read them Pelé’s remarks that Senegal was the weakest link of the group, I immediately noticed a revolt in their eyes,” Metsu told the African newspaper Vanguard later that year, referring to the Brazilian superstar. “I knew they were going to fight like lions.”
Senegal’s Papa Bouba Diop scored the only goal of the game during the 30th minute, in front of a crowd of 62,561. Senegal tied Denmark and Uruguay in its other first-round matches, then knocked out Sweden in the Round of 16 on an extra-time goal by Henri Camara.
Its World Cup run ended in the quarterfinals in a 1-0 loss to Turkey, again in extra time, in Osaka, Japan.
Senegal had become only the second African team to advance that far; Cameroon went to the quarterfinals in 1990. Since then, only one African team has reached the quarterfinals: Ghana in 2010 after ousting the United States.
Bruno Metsu was born on Jan. 28, 1954, in Coudekerque-Village, a suburb of Dunkirk, in northern France. He worked on Dunkirk’s docks before playing for French clubs like Valenciennes and Lille, where he later coached. He ended his playing career with Beauvais Oise in 1987 and became a manager there that year.
After some time in Senegal, Metsu converted to Islam and married a Senegalese woman. Information about his survivors was not available.
After the 2002 World Cup loss, he coached in the Middle East, leading Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates to the Asian Champions League title the next year.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|Date of birth||(1954-01-28)28 January 1954|
|Place of birth||Coudekerque-Village, department of Nord, France|
|Date of death||14 October 2013(2013-10-14) (aged 59)|
|Place of death||Coudekerque-Village, department of Nord, France|
|1987–1988||Beauvais (assistant manager)|
|2006–2008||United Arab Emirates|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.|
† Appearances (Goals).
- 1 Football career
- 1.1 Playing career
- 1.2 Early managerial career
- 1.3 Later managerial career
- 2 Illness and death
- 3 Funeral
- 4 Honours as a manager
- 5 References
Playing careerMetsu played in the attacking midfield position. His career as a youth and senior player with eight different clubs was largely based in his native France. He had a three-year spell as a youth player in Belgium with Anderlecht. During his 14 years as a senior player between 1973 and 1987, all with French clubs, he scored a total of 30 goals with no national titles won. Metsu had his heyday at Valenciennes FC between 1975 and 1979, scoring his highest number of club goals, 14 (in 134 appearances), while playing alongside top players such as Didier Six and Roger Milla. 
Early managerial careerAfter retiring as a player with Beauvais in 1987, Metsu took up the assistant manager post in the same year with Beauvais. In 1988, he became the full-time manager of that club. He spent over a decade coaching five different clubs in France before his first foray overseas as a football manager in the year 2000.
Later managerial career
GuineaIn the year 2000, Metsu became the manager of a national team for the first time when he took charge of the Guinea national football team after signing a modest contract. “Metsu complained of so many things in Guinea. Poor infrastructure, poor management by Guinea's football association and frequent meddling in his work,” said Titi Camara, a former Guinea international who later became the country's sports minister. Metsu left the Guinea post after less than one year on the job to become the manager of the Senegal national football team later that year.
SenegalAfter Metsu had settled in Senegal in the year 2000, he took up the task of inspiring the Lions of Teranga (the nickname of the Senegalese football team) to play better football. In February 2000, the Lions of Teranga had lost to co-hosts Nigeria 2-1 after extra-time in the quarterfinals of the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations.
Metsu quickly whipped his team into shape to the admiration of both fans and officials, and outstandingly led Senegal to the final (the first-ever in its history) of the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations held in Mali. Although they lost to Cameroon on penalties, the White Sorcerer, his sobriquet given by the local press, and his charges were given a red carpet reception when they arrived back home in Dakar.
Metsu helped Senegal seal a spot in the 2002 World Cup finals for the first time in its history. They were expected to prop up Group A containing the defending champions France, Denmark and Uruguay. Senegal pulled off a shock in the opening match of the tournament by beating the reigning World Cup and European champions France 1–0, with Pape Bouba Diop scoring the only goal. Metsu's psychological approach to the game had led him to encourage Senegal's players to focus on France's weaknesses rather than their strengths; he used videos to show the Senegalese players all the weaknesses of the French players. Metsu's side qualified from the group stage and beat Sweden in the round of 16, earning recognition as the first African side to reach the quarterfinals since Cameroon in 1990. Senegal were finally beaten in the quarterfinals by Turkey in extra time on İlhan Mansız's golden goal.
After Senegal had defeated France in the opening match of the 2002 World Cup, Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade declared a national holiday. Metsu's connection to the country went even further as he converted from Christianity to Islam while in Senegal, in order to marry a Muslim, Senegalese woman by the name of Rokhaya 'Daba' Ndiaye. A fair part of the Senegalese press called him Abdul Karim. When the Senegal national team returned home in Dakar from the 2002 World Cup, they were given a heroes' welcome. 
Gulf Arab states
Al AinMetsu's success with Senegal led him to the United Arab Emirates, where in August 2002 he took up a lucrative job as head coach of the UAE Football League defending champions Al Ain, owned by the Emir of Abu Dhabi. He coach the club to win the re-branded 2002–03 AFC Champions League(its maiden title), and completed a double by winning the UAE Football League in the same year. Al Ain retained the UAE Football League title in 2004. This led to a host of offers for the Frenchman, who left Al Ain FC in May 2004 to join the Qatari club Al-Gharafa in July 2004 as manager, to the resentment of Al Ain FC. Metsu was eventually forced to pay a fine for breach of contract.
Al-Gharafa (first spell)In 2005, Metsu coached his new club to the Qatar Stars League title in his first season, with a 14-point winning margin over the second-placed Al Rayyan SC. However, with players in the league contracted to the Qatar's National Olympic Committee rather than to their clubs, the side was dismantled with Marcel Desailly "transferred" from Al-Gharafa to Qatar SC. Metsu maintains that the Crown Prince of Qatar, who was the chairman of Qatar's National Olympic Committee, orchestrated the moves due to his unhappiness at his club, Al-Sadd SC, being dethroned as the Qatar Stars League champions by Al-Gharafa. Metsu nevertheless led his side to victory in the 2005-2006 Sheikh Jassem Cup, but conditions had deteriorated to the point that he left the club in April 2006.
Al-IttihadNext up for Metsu was a brief stint in 2006 in Saudi Arabia, where the six-time Saudi Professional League champions Al-Ittihad were currently only in fifth place in the 2005–06 Saudi Premier League table and were in danger of missing out on the four-team, three-match playoff for the league title. Metsu was handed a one-month contract by the club president Mansour Al-Balili to help the club qualify for the playoff. Metsu coached the club to finish in third position in the league table. Al-Ittihad lost its second playoff match against Al-Hilal FC and thus failed to advance to the final playoff match.
United Arab EmiratesMetsu returned to the United Arab Emirates as the UAE national team manager in 2006, coaching his side to victory in the 2007 Gulf Cup of Nations in front of a packed stadium in Abu Dhabi on 30 January 2007. It was the country's first Gulf Cup win, with Metsu achieving what former national team bosses including Don Revie, Carlos Alberto Parreira, Mario Zagallo, Tomislav Ivić, Roy Hodgson, Carlos Queiroz and Dick Advocaat had all failed to do.
The UAE crashed out of the 2007 AFC Asian Cup after finishing third in a group containing Japan, regional rivals Qatar and co-hosts Vietnam with one win and two losses. Despite his contract lasting until 2010, Metsu resigned from the head coach position on 22 September 2008 after suffering defeat in two straight World Cup qualifiers at home. Metsu's overall record with the side was 13 wins (11 official), 9 draws (3 official) and 20 losses (8 official) in 42 matches (22 official), scoring 47 goals and conceding 59.
QatarOn 25 September 2008, Metsu returned to Qatar, accepting a job as manager of the Qatar national team. The country was announced as host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in December 2010 and hosted the 2011 AFC Asian Cup. Qatar finished second in their group with 2 wins and a loss before being knocked out 3–2 by Japan in the quarter-finals, resulting in Metsu's sacking in February 2011.
Al-Gharafa (second spell)Metsu did not have to wait long for a new job and was announced as the new Al-Gharafa manager in March 2011 on a three-year contract, returning to the club that he had helped win the Qatar Stars League in 2005. His club won the 2011 Qatar Crown Prince Cup in April 2011. However, just one year into his contract, Metsu was sacked as the manager on 15 March 2012 due to poor results including a disheartening 5–1 home defeat to Al Rayyan that caused the team to drop to seventh place in the league standings.
Al WaslAfter being sounded out by the Senegal national team about a return to their then-vacant coaching position, Metsu was linked to Iranian side Persepolis in June 2012 but the job went to Manuel José. On 12 July 2012, Metsu was named as the new Al Wasl FC head coach, replacing Diego Maradona who was sacked two days earlier. On 26 October 2012, he resigned from Al Wasl after being hospitalised in Dubai due to colon cancer.
Illness and deathMetsu was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer in October 2012, three months after replacing Diego Maradona at Al Wasl FC. The cancer had already metastasized to his lungs and liver. Metsu succumbed to the cancer in the evening of 14 October 2013 at the clinique des Flandres in his native commune of Coudekerque-Village in northern France. He was survived by his wife and their three children.
FuneralMetsu was given an Islamic funeral in Dakar. He had converted to Islam more than ten years ago, while he was the manager of the Senegal national football team, taking the name Abdou Karim Metsu.
Honours as a manager
- AFC Champions League: champion in 2002–2003
- UAE Football League: champion in 2002–2003 and 2003–2004
- Qatar Stars League: champion in 2004–2005
- Sheikh Jassem Cup: champion in 2005–2006
- Crown Prince Cup: champion in 2011
- Emir Cup: runner-up in 2005/2006 and 2011
United Arab Emirates