In an interview with L’Equipe, former referee Tony Chapron recounts a series of improbable events during a ten-year-old OM-PSG with, originally, a premonitory discussion with André-Pierre Gignac.
Everyone remembers his famous tripping over Diego Carlos, during a PSG-Nantes, in 2018. The surreal scene probably still haunts his memory, even if he has learned to put things into perspective for all these years. “Looking back, you think, ‘This can never happen.’ But if it were to happen again, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have the same reflex. Because it’s a reflex. There is nothing controlled”, he explained four years later, in a fascinating interview with the Team. Voluntary or not, this does not prevent this “reptilian reflex”, commanded by a nested survival instinct deep in our brains, cost him an early end to his career.
If he has put away the whistle since, Tony Chapron has not said goodbye to the round ball, quite the contrary. A television consultant, Tony Chapron delivers his analyzes with the same pedagogical talents he used to make players listen to reason on the pitch. In front of the camera and on the set, but also during an interview with Marco Verratti, Chapron shows other facets of his personality, hinting at an image other than that of an austere and inflexible referee. What we knew less, however, are his gifts for omens, experienced alongside a former Ligue 1 player, André-Pierre Gignac.
“Gignac took me for a diviner!”
“One day I play OM-PSG (2-2, in 2012). And after three minutes, he is overexcited, remembered Chapron for L’Equipe. I think he is the one who makes the first three faults of the match. I tell myself that he is going to trip and blow up the match. At some point, there is a corner for Paris and he is next to me. I say to him: ‘André-Pierre, you have to calm down . You’re good when you’re calm. And I think that if you calm down, you’ll score a goal. “Sometimes when you’re a referee, you say nonsense… (He laughs) And three minutes later , he scores !” The sequel is amazing.
“The 30th minute arrives, I see that he is falling back into his ways, continues Chapron. There is a free kick for Paris, he is in the wall. And I say to him: ‘André-Pierre, you are going back up under pressure. You have to calm down. I told you earlier, when you’re focused on the game, you’re effective. You’ve scored a goal, I’m sure you’ll notice one.’ Five minutes later, he scored a second but! I was hallucinating. A month later, I was refereeing Bordeaux-Marseille (1-0). We were in the tunnel, he came to see me and said: ‘If you see that I’m getting angry, can you tell me? Can you calm me down?” He took me for a diviner!”