contraflow roads, giddy gamers, reserved locations… The driving force of the Les Bleus coach reveals his secrets and techniques

What number of instances has he already “do it once more match” in his head, earlier than this mWednesday, November 16? Mid-morning, François Castro will shut the holds of his coach, and never of his “bus” since it’s certainly a car used for continuous journeys. He will tickle the mirrors one final time, then have interaction the primary of his Setra S516 HDH.

He’ll thus depart behind him the coaching middle of Clairefontaine (Yvelines). Bikers will open the best way for him, others will shut the march. “And it is going to be like this” for 80 kilometers, to the terminus: Le Bourget airport, from the place the French staff gamers anticipated in Qatar will take off to defend their title. His personal Mondial will cease there, on the tarmac: it’s a driver from a neighborhood firm who will then take the wheel, within the emirate.

If the route is established “on the final second”, François Castro already is aware of the seating plan. The employees sits in entrance, and the elders behind. “Lloris and Mandanda at all times put themselves in the identical placesays the driving force. Antoine Griezmann places every little thing, on the backside. The brand new ones fill the holes”.

When Kylian Mbappé and his teammates have descended, François Castro will carry out his conventional proprietor’s tour, as a result of there are heads within the air among the many gamers. Wi-fi headphones, headsets, even outfits, toiletry luggage… “Presnel Kimpembe [forfait de dernière minute sur blessure] at all times overlook every little thing, it is a catastrophe”, laughs the driving force. It’s also attainable that he finds “as traditional” some remnants of leaves infused with mate, this conventional south american drink expensive to Antoine Griezmann.

Seeing them go by, “perhaps” will he permit himself to whisper to all of them a discreet “good luck”. “Nothing extra: you carry the Blues, anyway”. There are additionally strict “pre-match” pointers, which David Hernandez, business and logistics director of the Sautomotive companies firm of the Chevreuse valley (Savac), handed him once more. “Briefing on the schedules and program of preparations, with, above all, relaxation. Then evaluation of the car, mechanics and cleanliness”, he lists. In brief: clear the home windows, vacuum, polish the edges, clear the bathrooms, test that the 42 seats of the coach recline like seashore deckchairs, as on the primary day.

In actuality, François Castro is aware of the protocol by coronary heart. Resort then Stade de France. Stade de France then lodge. Clairefontaine in the direction of the Stade de France. Stade de France to Clairefontaine. For twenty-one years he has been the official driver of the Blues in France. Twenty-one years he hides a reproduction key in a spot identified solely to him. To his credit score, greater than 100 “alternatives”, about as many as Zinedine Zidane (108), whom he additionally had “honor” to see in its 471 CV. The watchword is obvious: “Make your self small”. Driving should be versatile, at all times. With most focus. “As we’re escorted, we do issues that we do not often do on the highway.” Oh? “We take roads in the wrong way in the midst of the day, we do not respect the lights an excessive amount of, we slalom between the strains of autos.”

“On the ring highway, it is sizzling, sizzling, sizzling. Typically I hear the employees behind: ‘Oh expensive, it would not move, it would not move paaaaas’. And in reality, sure, it passes. “

François Castro, driver of the French nationwide staff

at franceinfo

All of the drivers who sat earlier than him on the wheel realize it: the coach mustn’t ever be stopped. Like an echo of the journey of José Alégria, accountable in his time for bringing the Blues victorious 3-0 from Brazil to Clairefontaine, on the evening of July 12, 1998. The peaceable village of Yvelin was then reworked into an epicenter of pleasure nationwide: “I drove my bus like a snowplow. I pushed the gendarmes who themselves pushed the folks. The toughest half was after we needed to flip at a visitors gentle. I could not see the place the highway was. Individuals have been hanging from lampposts. I used to be simply hoping nobody would find yourself underneath my wheels”confided in 2018 to franceinfo the veteran driver.

François Castro evokes one other unforgettable journey, in a tragic context this time. “The return of the Stade de France, November 13, 2015 [jour des attentats près de l’enceinte sportive et à Paris]. I nonetheless have goosebumps. It was the toughest emotionally. No person was speaking. We had an hour’s drive, it was limitless.”

The driver of the Blues François Castro poses in front of a bus from his company, Savac, in Chevreuse (Yvelines), November 14, 2022. (FRANCOIS CASTRO / PRIVATE COLLECTION)

Even by being as discreet as attainable, the daddy is a part of the decor. The employees name him by his first identify. For Steve Mandanda and Hugo Lloris, additionally it is “Francois”and no “Sir”. He took Didier Deschamps as a participant, and does the identical now as a coach. Between them, it is “one-two”: when “Dédé” begins to speak ways along with his assistants, François Castro is aware of that he should attain out his proper hand in the direction of the automotive radio, and placed on a light-weight background music, “of the French selection typically”, historical past that the dialog stays non-public.

Typically, he can even flip up the sound and switch right into a room supervisor. In 1998, Henri Emile, then intendant of the Blues, had charged him with shopping for a tape of Gloria Gaynor to encompass the journeys of the group of Aimé Jacquet. We have been then firstly of the World Cup. Philippe Tournon, former press chief, retains a exact reminiscence of this scene in his e book, concerning the heady I Will Survive: “We have not completed listening to it.” In truth, the tune then turned the anthem accompanying the triumph of the French gamers.

Twenty-four years later, François Castro hopes to seek out “his” Blues as late as attainable. It might be signal. He and his coach are already accessible to choose them up on the airport.

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