December 30, 2018
A look back at 2018 (Part 1)
2019 is now upon us, with its own set of mysteries, expectations and hopes. A new chapter will open for OGC Nice. But before beginning to pick up the pen to write about it, it’s time to look back at the story of 2018. Both on and off of the pitch.
16 January: Mario (almost) got payback for the Gym
Some draws are to be taken as a win. Others more like a defeat. 2018 began with a bitter double header against Monaco. The Gym were made to pay on two occasions, one after the other. From the start of the match, the Aiglons troubled the Red and Whites away from home in the quarter finals of the Coupe de la Ligue, but were eventually killed off by the opposition’s clinicality (1-2 defeat on 9 January). One week later, they travelled to the Louis-II, with the desire to add the result to the physicality of the match. They managed to do so, bullying their hosts, and assisted by a brace from Super Mario. Unfortunately, they were just a minute away from securing the payback. The time needed for Monaco to take a quick free-kick, which Falcao scored and turned a defeat into a draw in the 92’ (2-2).
17 January: Koziello’s moving goodbye
The first striking event of the year off of the pitch. Full of emotion. A product of the club and a symbol of an incredible era, Vincent Koziello left the Red and Black boat in the middle of the winter transfer window. The midfielder headed off to join Cologne in the Bundesliga.
“I spent 4 and a half magnificent years with the club that I love, but I am Niçois and I will remain so for all of my life“, he declared as his voice trembled at the moment that the curtain fell, with a thought for a everyone.
26 January: Cyprien returns from hell
A cruciate ligament injury suffered on 10 March 2017 slowed down his rise to glory. Nine months later, Wylan Cyprien made his return to competitive football against Vitesse Arnhem, in the Europa League.
After several minor muscular complaints - to be expected after such a period of injury - the midfielder really started to get back out on the pitch at the start of the year. With 7 minutes against Amiens, he then played all of the derby against Monaco, then capped his return against Saint-Etienne, with a victorious free kick. Wylan appeared on 16 occasions during the second half of the season.
22 February: Direction: Moscow
A trip to Moscow to make history. Two tremendous strikes from Mario, two against the bar, and the feeling that history would come to an end in the blizzard.
A hammer blow from Denissov after half an hour, and the feeling would become reality (Loko’ won the game 1-0). After making it out of the group stage, the Gym left the Europa League 3000km away from home. After missing their chances, particularly in the first leg (2-3 at the Allianz). And with a whole heap of regrets.
2 March: The Gym’s 3000th goal in the top flight
The moment was made to be his, and he wasn’t about to let it go. On 2 March, against Lille, Mario Balotelli scored OGC Nice’s 3000th goal in L1. Turning home a corner sent in by Cyprien, the star left a little bit more of a mark on the club.
Before him, Rolando Barrera scored the 2000th goal in the top flight (on 16 August 1985 against Lens); Oswaldo Dandru got the 1000th (against Bordeaux on 19 September 1962) and Rezsö Lyka picked up the first ever goal on 11 September 1932. A first goal that was also the first in a French professional league.
11 March: Four for Plea
A first goal with his left foot after a 50m run, and then striking the bar just after. A volleyed finish for the second. A smart run and excellent near-post finish for his hat-trick and a cross shot for the fourth. On 11 March, the Gym won at Guingamp (5-2), thanks to a highly impressive Plea, in a match which demonstrated the incredible progression of the number 14.
Quick, technical, powerful, nimble, the forward who came through the ranks at Lyon ended his fourth season with Nice on a roll (16 goals and 4 assists) and left the club with the feeling that his evolution was complete. Arriving in Nice as a hope for the future, he joined Gladbach as a sure bet. The forward continued his fine form in the Bundesliga and earned his first call up for the French national side in November. A deserved reward for his talent and selflessness. A reward that all at the Gym were proud of ...
18 May: Welcome to the Endowment Fund
Off of the pitch, where the team ended the season just one point away from Europe, 2018 was also the year that saw the creation of the Endowment Fund and the Mèfi Club. The former, was opened to encourage donations from both companies and individuals, and reinforced the club’s commitment to the community, focusing primarily on: “youngsters” and “proximity”.
The second of the initiatives is another step in the direction for those who make up the “supporters of tomorrow”. Reserved for under 12s, it provides its members with privileges such as access to training sessions or even matches, throughout the season.