Raymond Domenech

  • Born: (Lyon, Lyon Metropolis, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France)

Raymond Manuel Albert Domenech is a retired French footballer and the former manager of the French national football team.

On 12 July 2004, Domenech was a surprise choice to succeed Jacques Santini after the country's disappointing exit from UEFA Euro 2004 by losing in the quarter-final match to the eventual tournament-upset winners Greece. He was given the objective by the FFF to reach "at least" the 2006 FIFA World Cup semi-finals.

France struggled in the qualifiers, even though the team was seeded in a group that included the relatively unheralded teams of Israel and Switzerland. Domenech persuaded Claude Makelele, Lilian Thuram and Zidane, members of France's "golden generation," out of international retirement to aid the national team, which was struggling in qualification. The Republic of Ireland were France's main contenders in the group, and threatened to contribute to France's exit until Zidane returned to lead France to a 1–0 win at Lansdowne Road, ultimately ending the hopes of the Irish. The general consensus in France, however, was that France was too old to win the 2006 World Cup, despite the return of their cherished talisman, Zidane.

As a keen amateur dramatist and astrologer, Domenech has admitted to distrusting Scorpios, such as Robert Pires. This led to the choosing of Vikash Dhorasoo who played an important part in qualifying but not in the finals. He later fell out with Dhorasoo after he made a behind the scenes film Substitute. His decision to leave out FC Barcelona star Ludovic Giuly in favour of Franck Ribéry, and subsequent refusal to explain that decision, left many French players and fans mystified. Domenech chose Pascal Chimbonda, a low-profile player with no international experience, for the squad. Domenech's selection for France's World Cup squad was further criticised when he publicly announced that Fabien Barthez would start ahead of Olympique Lyonnais goalkeeper Grégory Coupet. This decision was met with derision in the French press and also led to Coupet walking out of the national squad before the tournament, although he later returned. His exclusion of Roma back-bone defender Philippe Mexès also raised a few eyebrows. Mexès, despite being named "Hope of the Year" in 2000 and being a starting defender for Roma since his arrival to the team, never played in a competitive senior tournament under Domenech.

France had a slow start in the World Cup, recording draws against Switzerland and Korea Republic before finally defeating Togo. However, France turned the corner after the victory against Togo and started to play passing possession football, as it had in its triumphs in the 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2000. They shone in the knockout rounds, which included impressive victories over favoured Spain, Brazil, and Portugal. France lost the final to Italy in a penalty shootout following a 1–1 draw after extra time.

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