The champion who changed his life
With Anne-Elisabeth Lemoine and her columnists in the flagship program of France 5, Yannick Noah evokes the American player Arthur Ashe, more than just an example for him when he was young: ” He was my hero because the first time I saw him play on TV (…) what shocked me was that he was black. He was elegant, he carried a dignity and a way of being on the pitch that I found so chic“.
The young Yannick has the chance to meet his hero in a tournament organized in Yaoundé. When he was just a child, Yannick saw his life change thanks to the American champion: ” He spoke about me to the federation. A few years later I was in Nice in sport study“.
A life that changes but difficult times
Yannick Noah was only 12 years old when he left Cameroon to settle on the Côte d’Azur. A dream for him, of course, but he also remembers all those difficult times when his great loneliness (since he is far from his family and loved ones) is expressed in tears:
” All my tears reminded me why I was there. I stayed because I wanted to play, to be a good player, I wanted to exist through my racket (…) I was looking for recognition (…) I told myself that if I played well, I was going to be recognized and, unconsciously, that over time people would forget where I came from. I wanted to be there because I wanted to be a champion”.
Looking back, Yannick Noah can obviously be proud of him. He is still considered today as one of the greatest French tennis champions, and no compatriot, despite several golden generations, has managed to follow in his footsteps. Thereafter, he replaced the racket with the microphone and enjoyed glory and success in French song. A certain idea of success.
Yannick Noah’s analysis of high-level sport
In the Journal du Dimanche, the champion agreed to talk about the common problems found in sport, and in particular in football. The example he chooses is PSG, the Parisian team often mocked for shining in Ligue 1 but failing in the Champions Leagues. Is it a problem of level, when millions and millions have been invested to afford the best players? Not for him, it’s mostly a mental problem:
” At the level where they are, they need help. It seems obvious to me, whatsays Noah. There are really positive players but there are situations where it escapes us. Damn, I get feverish looking at them because I see them feverish. We’re backing up, we don’t have that thing. But it works, that. Accidents do happen. Three times, on the other hand… You messed up mentally once, you manage. But it was not, a priori. I don’t think there are any psychologists inside this club. While sport is the mind“.
Coaches need to trust their instincts and not just rely on a handful of stars. ” The Champions League is won with twenty players pulling in the same direction, not three. And the coach must have carte blanche. If he feels he has to make a substitution, no one should put pressure behind him. Messi, I like it. But if he’s tired, which is what happens, he goes out and you play a guy who punches or runs like a rabbit. And then there you go, you win! Seriously, you have to trust your instincts. Otherwise, I would never have taken Leconte in 1991. Or aligned Gasquet-Humbert in doubles in 2017… They took me for a madman. But what ? It’s my responsibility, I felt it. Otherwise, we do what everyone expects and basta!”