His legend is eternal – Saint-Etienne pay tribute to Robert Herbin

Omnisport

Saint-Etienne know they will for ever owe a debt to Robert Herbin, their great former coach who has died, aged 81.

Le Progress, the Saint-Etienne newspaper where Herbin contributed a weekly column, reported he had been hospitalised for "several days" before his death on Monday, which is thought to be unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic.

Former France international Herbin won Ligue 1 five times as a player, along with three Coupes de France.

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However, he is most revered for his subsequent decade in Les Verts' dugout, where he masterminded a similar period of success.

Saint-Etienne were French champions in 1973-74 and 1974-75, completing domestic doubles in each of those seasons.

They made it three Ligue 1 crowns in the following campaign, with another Coupe de France added in 1976-77.

Herbin's final title in charge of ASSE in 1980-81 featured Michel Platini before the superstar forward joined Juventus a year later.

Saint-Etienne were a frequent presence in the latter stages of European competitions during Herbin's reign but could not add to their domestic trophy haul.

The closest they came was in 1976, when Bayern Munich prevailed 1-0 in the European Cup final at Hampden Park.

"Living in the Saint-Etienne region, Robert Herbin was a man of few words until the end of his life," read the conclusion to a tribute piece on Saint-Etienne's website entitled 'The greatest'.

"His presence alone was enough to tell everything. Always impassive, discreet and fond of the shade, he is nevertheless the one who placed ASSE in the light.

"His priceless legacy will remain as his greatest accomplishment. Lifetime ambassador of the club, Robert Herbin, he is Saint-Etienne. His legend is eternal.

"To his family, relatives and friends, managers, players, coaches and administrative employees of AS Saint-Etienne send their sincere condolences."

The French Football Federation (FFF) also paid its respects, lauding Herbin as "one of the historical characters of our football, one of the most successful too".

Saint-Etienne's run to the 1976 European Cup final was described by the FFF as "an epic that plunged France into a green fever and sounded the awakening of French football on the international scene".

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