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August 3, 2021


511 days after the last football party at Allianz Riviera*, the supporters of Le Gym returned to their home ground for the friendly clash with AC Milan (1-1). More than just a return to the stadium, it was like coming back to life.

Once we'd emerged from the global health crisis, we assumed that everything would be different. This assumption was both confirmed and contradicted on Saturday, in a gala match attended by more than 9,000 Nice fans: season ticket holders, carers and members of the associations supported by the Endowment Fund.

A closer look will reveal all. A look at what seemed insignificant before the crisis and today appears extraordinary. In a sandwich outside the ground, in a drink in your seat, an announcement over the tannoy, the playing squad, the new signings and a shirt presentation, banners... chants... Last Saturday, the Allianz Riviera woke up, carried by 9,000 souls. And, in the heat of the Plaine du Var, everyone felt at home, in a place where they had not set foot - or almost - for an eternity.

But on closer inspection, we can see that the crisis has not revolutionised everything. And the home, even if temporarily forgotten, is still a home. After the emotion of the return, after the discovery of the new Gym, of the new faces, of the new kits, each season ticket holder walks towards a future, instructed by the past. Their habits, the joy at a goal, the frustration of an equaliser, the excitement at a duel, a dribble, a moment of individual brilliance... Very quickly, the silence of 511 days was forgotten. And the stadium came back to life.

Les Aiglons and the coaching staff went to greet their 12th man at the end of the game. "I know the fervour of this club," said Christophe Galtier. "We're in the south, it's passionate. I know that the fans expect us to have a team with character, that never gives up. I know that I can count on their support for the whole match to encourage the team. Personally, I loved it. But the team and the players are the most important thing. I hope we will have moments of shared joy. I love it, but I need to stay calm, but I do really appreciate the warm welcome."

The beginning of a new story, which will continue next Sunday, with the return of L1 against Reims.

* On 7 March 2020, Le Gym defeated Monaco 2-1. Since then, Les Aiglons have played two matches in front of 1,000 spectators (against Nantes and Lille in the Autumn of 2020).