A new era
With the arrival of new Chairman Jean-Pierre Rivère, the club launched a new sporting project. In the space of five short years, OGC Nice would change stadium, develop its youth academy policy and infrastructure, begin work on a new training centre, welcome Chinese-American investors, develop an attractive playing style and obtain the club’s best results since the glorious 1970s.
Just a few weeks after the victory in the Gambardella Youth Cup, Claude Puel was named head coach in the summer of 2012. It was a first strong decision from Chairman Jean-Pierre Rivère, who had taken control of the club less than a year earlier. Les Aiglons were quickly playing some beautiful football, but sat 17th after ten matches of the season. The results soon arrived, however, including a magnificent victory over Ibrahimovic’s PSG, 2-1 at the Stade du Ray and a 2-0 triumph over Lille. In the top six throughout the second half of the season, Les Aiglons pipped Lille and Saint Etienne at the post to claim fourth place and qualify for the Europa League - the club’s best Ligue 1 finish in 37 years.
The next season saw OGC Nice enter a new era when it quit the Stade du Ray (with an unforgettable final match) for the state-of-the-art 35,000-capacity Allianz Riviera. On the pitch, Dario Cvitanich and co. missed out in the Europa League play-offs before enduring a nightmare season (17th). 2014-15 was to prove another tough campaign and an honourable 11th-placed finish before a spectacular return to the limelight just a year later.
A new-look squad, led by the talent of Hatem Ben Arfa, regaled the French footballing community, with stunning victories away to Saint-Etienne (1-4) and Rennes (1-4) and at home to Lyon (3-0). The team built on the excellent start and again finished the league in fourth place, qualifying directly for the group phase of the Europa League. At the same time, the Chinese-American investors Alex Zheng, Chien Lee and Paul Conway became majority share holders in the club, and work began on the future training centre...