mercredi 18 novembre 2015

Wingers of Yesterday & Today (2/3) - The Evolution of the Winger's role.

Second and, main part on the topic.

An article by Football Magazine (monthly supplement of France Football) about wingers.
The following is what we can read in the issue of March 1961. 




After the positions of keeper, of side-backs and of halves, « FOOTBALL MAGAZINE » studies the winger's one with whom who illustrated it through several generations.
MAX URBINI and J.-Ph. RETHACKER interrogated 6 international players brought together in Paris and on the other hand, browse the great wingers of the past and present-day, foreign and French.

Ultimately, for « FOOTBALL MAGAZINE », the former international player PIERRE FLAMION (Coach of Limoges) gives his advices to the young footballers who are attracted by the winger's position.

(1) In the original language :
L'ailier : il n'est plus un Enfant Perdu [journalists].
« Soudain lui qui s'envole ; ses omoplates comme la naissance d'ailes coupé songe à une phrase du manuel : un ailier est un enfant perdu ». (Les Olympiques : Henry de Montherlant)

(1) Translation :
The Winger : he is not a lost child anymore [journalists].
“ Suddenly he who flies; his shoulder blades like the birth of wings clipped ... I think of a sentence from the manual: a winger is a lost child". (Les Olympiques : Henry de Montherlant)

1920 :

Raymond DUBLY
Born 11/5/1893 in Roubaix.
One single club : R.C Roubaix.
31 times international player, the first time against Belgium (2/16/1913), the last time against England (5/25/1925).
Retired federal coach.

1930 :

Born 6/2/1908 in Charantonneau.
Clubs : C.A Paris, Excelsior de Roubaix, Red Star, Saint-Etienne.
29 times international player, the first time against England (5/26/1927), the last time against Italy (12/5/1937).
Industrialist, President of C.A Paris.

1940 :

Born 5/16/1912 in Chantilly.
Clubs : U.S Chantilly, Red Star, R.C Paris, Angers, Stade Français, ; then player-coach : Fontainbleau and F.C Tours.
31 times international player, the first time against Switzerland (3/11/1934), the last time against England (5/19/1946).
Storekeeper in Tours, always play football for his pleasure.

1950 :

Ernest VAAST
Born 10/28/1922 in Paris
Clubs : F.C Levallois, R.C Paris, Stade Rennais, ; then as player-coach ; Bressuire, Cherbourg and currently Saint-Georges-les-Ancizes.
15 times international player, the first time against Switzerland (5/8/1945), the last time against Spain (5/19/1949).


Born 11/29/1930 in Laboeuvrière (Pas-de-Calais).
Clubs : U.S Auchel, Lille O.S.C and Stade de Reims.
43 times international player, the first time against Belgium (5/30/1954), the last time against Sweden (10/30/1960).


François HEUTTE
Born 2/21/1938 in Cheumont-en-Vexin (Eure).
Clubs : F.C Rouen, Lille O.S.C and R.C Paris.
7 times international player, the first time against Austria (12 /13/1959), the last time against Spain (10/25/1960).

The winger crosses the ball.

The Winger 1920

In my opinion, despite the evolution of the systems of play, the intervention of the off-side rule, the direct marking or zonal, the winger's role did not vary greatly since 1915. It has simply been completed by a defensive work, whereas before this role was strictly offensive. When I was playing, the winger was always along the sideline in an attacking position. His function was quite intermittent in that sense that he had often the time during a game to fully recover. He was not constantly involved in the plays, but that allowed intense periods of activity to him with very quick rushes and very dangerous.
In sum, he really had the opportunity to really shine all the more so cause he had the possibility to get himself forgotten.
I am often told that the wingers of my epoch were cross-machines. Let's not generalize still. No believe me, some wingers were then capable to be finishers and to out-mark, and of combining with the « inside ». I repeat, the wingers in my time were more brilliant than those of today. There is a reason to this, those of today are confined into collective instructions that constantly obligate to participate in the team play.
I think that if the defense in zone generalizes in all the professional football, that will permit to give more freedom again to the winger thus he will express himself better.

My style :

I have immediately chosen the position of left winger, first of all because I was a lefty and then because I gathered those two essential qualities to hold this position at the forefront of the attack, the speed and jumping (but it also happend that I played on the right). I trained in a quite special maneer for that time, in the English-fashion : repeated footing, jump rope, punching-ball (for the « breathe »), long working on half-volleys with very little inflated balloons or tennis balls.
My force, it was the speed at running and into the conception, a great facility ball at the feet and an accuracy in passing, crossing and shooting.

The winger cuts across

The Winger 1930

In 1920, out of some exceptions (like Dubly), the winger was really no more than a cross-machine. But it didn't take so long for he asserts his personality while taking a major part in his team results. At my very beginnings (1926) he was already given much more consideration.
At this time, the typical winger was a bright and percusive attacker in charge of misalign the defense and to create a hole in it. In this, he had a way more decisive role than the centre forward, man always closely under surveillance and full-face. The winger did not receive a ball to control it at will and try to get him noticed. Nine times on ten, he was sollicited in the direction of the corner kick spot. He imposed himself surprising the half in charge of his surveillance and attacking the back to hook him and give the ball « what was almost a sitter ». Also, some of them pushed their action until the end to beat the keeper themselves. All of them « leant on » the defender, i.e while cutting across he transfered weight on him and held the ball more easily alongside the goal line.

My style :

I ran fast (not far of 11'' at the 100 meters), I was not maladroit, most of all with the left foot. That's why I have been made a left winger while my main ambition was to play as a centre forward.
At the times of my beginnings, C.A.P was one of the very top class French teams. To the point that all the kids of my age copied its stars like today, the kids try copying Kopa, Piantoni, Ujlaki or Marcel. All the kids of Charentonneau who were backs took themselves for Vanco and played with the outside of the foot since it was his main strenght. The ones who played insides played the Bard. As for myself, I was in awe of Pache. It was the guy who hurtled, who demolished everything that presented before him. Alas ! I had not the template to play the centre forwards. Thus I have all naturally became a left winger, position at wich I've made all my career, most of all getting myself noticed for my overflowings on the last player, back-crosses for the inside or the centre forward. Because I was not a shooter ! I also frequently imposed myself thanks to the « double-start » wich allowed me to attack the defender on his initial speed to then suddenly accelerate on the full run. That was a radical method.

The winger scores

The winger 1935-40

What had initiated during Marcel Langiller's reign has considerably developped during my career. This one has coincided with the beginning of professionalism in France (1932). Then I got a place under the sun at a capital moment in football's history : the arrival of the W.M with the marking of the winger by the side-back, the insides by the halves and the centre forward by the centre-back.
Then we saw a powerful winger, fast, going straight forward to the goals with only one target in mind : to shoot and score. Yes, the winger who was primarly a diversion element then an overwhelming one became at this moment there a true scorer, a man sought at every opportunity, good technician but most of all very realistic.

My style

I have just underlined that the W.M's winger was a strongly powerful striker, decided and scorer. But overall, there are exceptions...and, Fred Aston has been an exception. My little height (1 m. 65) and my physique in general made of me a very peculiar winger. It has been said of me that I only played according to my inspiration and that I would be unable still today to explain my behavior. It's still going a bit far...
I was a winger good technician who dropped back often, who volontary withdrew of the game in order to spare frontal attacks of the defence and going to shock. I started from far in repeated passes with Sas or Simonyi (two of my best partners) and I tried, like that, to go through the opponent's defensive network.
Thereby has begun , I believe it, a period of more collaboration between the winger and his inside and even between the winger and all the other forwards.

The Winger swirls

The winger 1945-50

I had the chance, yes I say well the chance, during a passionate period, the one where R.C Paris really brought something to the French football. In '48, '49 and '50 his offensive style came like a breath of fresh air into a too much conformist game. R.C Paris had the merit to go forward frankly making his attackers play much more faster than all the others and permitting them to occupy the whole width of the pitch by incessant permutations (the « whirlwind »).
The winger who already played way better with his partners at Fred Aston's time then has participated even better in the game of the whole attack. He was able to fully express himself while coming look for the ball or solliciting it in all the directions.

My style

I've never been, it must be said, a real winger. At Racing, I have almost always occupied the inside-left role. But it is, paradoxical thing, at the left wing that I have mostly expressed myself in the French national team ! Trained by Emile Veinante, for who I always have deep admiration, I behaved at this position like a player assured of his technique, counting more on his clear-sightedness and his start-ups than on his running speed, like a player who constantly shows up to facilitate the work of a partner or of some partners and not to depend soleley on them.
The value and the efficiency of a winger always have been depending on the inside's personality. I have experienced that...both ways. As an inside permitting to Moreel to fully express himself as a winger, and suffering a bit of the talent of Ben Barek, yet an extraordinary player.

The winger participates

The winger 1955

If Vaast has known a happy time with R.C Paris, that one where the winger showed up everywhere, I have personally gone trough (and I still do it) a period of evolution on the collective point of view. The winger of my debuts (1948-50) was a man to score goals. Then he started to be affected by the spearhead inside. And basically he is today a man of the midfield.

My style

Ernest Vaast said that the behaviour of the winger intimately depended on the inside's one. It is true ! Look at my career...At Auchel as an amateur, I was a real winger, always at the upfront, always launched by his closest teammate overflowing and shooting at the goals. At Lille, then I became a spearhead inside, almost winger, a man of rapid counter-attacks and deep. At Reims, becoming winger, I had to defer to the game of my insides... all spearhead insides (Bliard, Fontaine, Piantoni). Thus I had to undertake a big work at midfield and in defense. A bit against my nature because if I like getting the ball and exert myself tirelessly, I'm always considered like a winger made to cause the decision, thanks to my speed, my dribble and my sense of the goal.

The winger defends

The winger 1961

I have not much more to add to the presentation of my comrade Vincent. I am naturally younger than him but I play in a period that is always knowing two types of wingers : the one who always at the forefront takes advantage to the maximum of his natural and technical qualities to be more a finisher than an assistant and the one who like Vincent and myself is obliged to defer to a very strict collective discipline. Personally, I play into a team wich you know very well its tactical design. This one obligates the winger to make incessant withdrawals, requires an occupation of field that makes him, in my opinion, more a defender than an attacker. It is well the paradox of the current football. Though the different positions' names do not have the signification they had at the origin of football. The winger defends, the inside is at the fore, the centre forward is set back, the halves are up front.

My style

I want not to make a face, but like Ernest Vaast, I think that I'm not the winger into the current conception of Pierre Pibarot at Racing. I do the impossible to bend me to his directives, but I don't consider me a boy who can complete a heavy duty at midfield. I think I dribble very well, that I know how to pass through one, two, three adversaries and that I am a front man, maybe, a winger of another time, but certainly an inside of 1961.


Devaquez remains the model

I affirm without hesitation , Jules Devaquez, the indisputable winger of « L'Equipe de France 1920-1929», stands as one of the greatest forwards of our football. He was specially gifted to play on the wing. Exceptional ball shooting, extraordinary jump for a little-heighted (1 m. 68), rapidity of the starts and at running : Yes, Devaquez had all these qualities. He exclusively played upon the line and came across at 30 meters from the goals, like an arrow. He shooted as well with the right as well as with the left with force and precision.
For me, Jules Devaquez remains an example. As he was, he would be today undisputed in « Equipe de France ».

[ultimately, the floor was given to the sage : Lucien Gamblin, born in 1893, played for Red Star and for France from the early 1910s to 1923-25, he was a defender]

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