Nantes captain Blas vindicated after being 'taken for a madman'

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Nantes captain Ludovic Blas said he "was taken for a madman" after insisting the club had a good team last year, but had the last laugh after lifting the Coupe de France on Saturday.

La Maison Jaune beat Nice 1-0 in the final at the Stade de France thanks to Blas' penalty early in the second half.

The 24-year-old midfielder emphatically drilled home his spot-kick after Hicham Boudaoui handled and that was enough for Nantes to win their first major trophy for 21 years, marking the fourth time the club has lifted the Coupe de France.

It has been quite the comeback story for Nantes, who only avoided slipping down to Ligue 2 last season after beating Toulouse on away goals in the relegation playoff.

“Last year, I persisted in saying that we had a good team. I persisted," Blas said after lifting the cup. "I was just saying that, and we had talented players. I was taken for a madman.

"Now, I would like people to remember that, and not take me for a fool. Frankly, it's the most beautiful thing that could happen. Being this close to going down to Ligue 2, and winning the Coupe de France shows that I really wasn't wrong about this team."

Nantes boss Antoine Kombouare was just as impressed by what he had witnessed, also referencing the journey from nearly being relegated to sealing a place in European football next season.

"We had to stay strong, despite the pressure of what was at stake, we had come from nowhere," he told reporters after the game. "A year ago, we could die and end up in Ligue 2, and here we won the Coupe de France and we will play the Europa League.

"I was reminded that we [are] going to play the Trophee des Champions. Can you imagine the difference? It's hard to believe. It is something exceptional, unique, almost miraculous."

Kombouare also revealed a conversation he had when he gave Blas the captaincy, with the player appearing to predict the future.

"I'm going to tell you a secret," he said. "During the first match at Sochaux, I gave him the armband in the locker room just before going to warm up, and he immediately said to me: 'Coach, I'm very proud, I will take us to the Stade de France and I will lift the Coupe de France'. I was a prisoner of these words."

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