” He is small, he is nice “: the true story of our song on N’Golo Kanté

Quick return, tac tac tac, until 2018. On the occasion of the World Cup, So Foot, in partnership with Parions Sport, then produced a daily video program, hosted by Thomas Thouroude. A pellet that we call, without going too far, FC Thouroude. We could also have called it the Sports Association of Thomas Thouroude’s friends, but we have too much respect for the ASPTT for that. Every morning, the same challenge presents itself to the Avengers team (Paul, Hafid, Adrien, etc.) set up to carry out this project: imagine sketches on the news of the World Cup which will be recorded the same evening for broadcast the next day. . A whole gallery of characters will come out of their brains over the various seasons of FC Thouroude until 2021: the dealer, the hooligan, the mad scientist, Enzo the Footix, Paul the Hool… To spice it all up, during this first edition launched for this Russian opus, they also inflict themselves on imagining parody songs as often as possible. And that, well, is easier said than done.

The delicate art of the supporter song

Writing a song is hard. Writing a football song is even harder. Writing a football song that isn’t awkward to sing along with friends is way too hard. You have to find the right air, the one that runs through your head, which is obvious. It is also necessary to find the player who speaks to everyone, to connoisseurs as well as to the very general public. We’re not going to lie to each other, it’s not really in French culture – French supporters in Qatar this year paid the priceas Gilbert Montagné who also tried it. An old editorial memory illustrates this perfectly: in 2008, during the Euro, the afternoon before the match between the Netherlands and Raymond Domenech’s France, a TV channel recorded a program with a kop of Dutch fans and a French kop. The host offers a duel of fan songs. The Batavians draw a superb one, well built, known to all. The French responded timidly with a To the Champs Elysees by Joe Dassin – well, well – not at all mastered, completely improvised, which looks like nothing. The Orange continue with another song, a hit there too, perfectly executed. Embarrassed, the announcer of the Blues stutters roughly one “We don’t have much left, but a good Go Bluesit always works”. The butchery stopped there (it will continue the same evening with the resounding victory of the Netherlands, 4-1), the French supporters at the time absolutely did not know what to sing. Quite an art, we tell you…

Moussa Sissoko and the conclusive experience

We are back in 2018. After a few pastilles from FC Thouroude, the inspiration is already flagging a little. We then ask Eric Maggiori, one of the editors of sofoot.com. Why him ? Because inventing and humming songs about his colleagues or about any episode in the life of the editorial staff is, a priori, a passion for him. Two years earlier, he had participated with Gabriel Cnudde, Paul Piquard and other So Foot journalists in the writing and recording of a song about Moussa Sissoko, to the tune of Midnight Demonsduring Euro 2016. The piece, broadcast on the YouTube account of our journalist Maxime Brigand, had had its little success and had quickly found itself in the repertoire of Blues fans during the competition.

Short. Here is an exchange of text messages between Éric Maggiori, Paul Piquard and Pierre Maturana, editorial director of sofoot.com, which shows how this big nonsense started and why it fell on the darling of the Blues:

We would still have been more bored if we had had to make a sound around Morgan Schneiderlin or Josuha Guilavogui… Thank you Deschamps! Anyway, neither one nor two, a group is formed around the authors of the FCT (and not the ASPTT, therefore) in the kitchen of So Foot which serves as their office. Very quickly, the words come from all sides, from Thomas Thouroude, from others, and easily aggregate to form a coherent whole. Kanté’s character inspires, especially through his acting; which facilitates the elaboration of the verses. “He collects, he distributes. At Chelsea as in Russia, it’s the sure guy of our Dédé, N’Golo Kanté… When he leaves with the ball at his feet, it’s impossible to stop him. He will do whatever you want, N’Golo Kanté…”

Everything is articulated, the subject as the respect of the number of syllables to respect the rhythm and the melody of Joe Dassin. Until the chorus, which promises to be strangely more complicated to draw. If replace” To the Champs Elysees “ by N’Golo Kanté and end with “Soon on the Champs-Élysées, N’Golo Kanté” sound rather quickly like evidence, the passage “In the sun, in the rain, at noon or at midnight” is an obstacle. Like when your parents block in a level of candy Crush on their iPhone 6. There, Pierre offers: “He is small, he is nice, nananana Leo Messi”… Eric: “We can’t put that,“he is small, he is nice”, it’s infernal as a sentence! » “Hellish” is a word that we use orally between us like salt in the water of pasta at So Foot: in large pinches. We forget. Let’s move on to something else. We continue to block. Nothing comes. For a few minutes. Five or ten, maybe.

The fabulous destiny of a song of one minute and twenty-five seconds

“Actually, it works. “he is small, he is nice”… » ends up conceding Eric. Of course it works! The rest of the sentence comes by itself, it will be “He will eat Leo Messi”. Without much reason, by the way. Because, yes, by the way, at that time, we don’t know anything about it: it’s June 20, 2018 and France are only playing their second Group C match against Peru. France-Argentina will not be disputed until ten days later. The same evening, a whole band of FC Thouroude and So Foot collaborators meet in the basement, in a room that then serves as a sound studio, with obviously boxes of eggs stuck all over the wall. Eric records the main voice, the backing vocals (Andrea Chazy, Étienne Schaupp, Noé Boever, Kevin Charnay, Sledge Presley…) take up the chorus by forcing the wrong notes to give an aspect “fan chant” on an idea of ​​Hafid Benamar, actor (he notably played the cult Flex in Plane tree) and director, who was then one of the regular authors and protagonists of FC Thouroude. He is also the one who unleashes the no less infernal ” enjoy your food “ at the end of the clip. Anyway, after a quick edit, it’s in the box, youngsters!

The video of the clip is broadcast the next day, the 21st, on the networks and platforms of So Foot. The rest, everyone knows it: millions of views, covers and appropriation by Blues supporters across the country as far as Russia. In Moscow, on Nicolskaya Street, it was not uncommon to hear supporters, sometimes even from other countries, humming the song.

On June 30, the Blues qualify against Argentina. Kanté is playing a big game, Messi is not as bad as you would think for a long time. Still, the players resume the song. In their sauce, since they slightly modify the lyrics – on an idea of ​​Benjamin Mendy, it seems – to integrate a private joke on the life of the group and the card games: “N’Golo Kanté, he’s short, he’s nice, he ate Leo Messi… But we all know he’s a cheat, N’Golo Kanté. » On July 15, after the title obtained against Croatia, in a mixed zone where correspondents and players meet, Matthieu Pécot, editor-in-chief of sofoot.com, arrests Kanté. Follows a small classic interview with a dozen journalists around. As he leaves, Matthieu calls out to him: “By the way, do you like this song? » And the middle responds:” She is like that ! » with a big smile and two thumbs up. The following day, July 16, back from Russia with a second star, Paul Pogba, microphone in hand, will in turn sing the famous refrain on the steps of the Élysée, with his teammates and the staff, in front of the president of the Republic and the supporters invited for the occasion. A crazy trajectory for a song based on a huge lie: Kanté has obviously never been small, it has always been a giant.

Some examples of FC Thouroude songs during the 2018 World Cup:

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  • He is small, he is nice “: the true story of our song on N’Golo Kanté