Dominique Baratelli (France)
Portraits of legendary footballers
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Dominique Baratelli, born in 1947 in Nice, was one of the greatest French goalkeepers, despite his small size.
He played successively in Ajaccio, Nice and Paris Saint-Germain. He was the gatekeeper of the French team for the 1978 World Cup.
COPEAM - Coproduction
- France Bleu Azur - Coproduction
Sport and games
Credits / Cast
- Le Bihan Eric - Journalist
- France - Centre and Ile-de-France - Paris
Dominique Baratelli is considered one of the best goalkeepers in the history of French football. Born in Nice on December 26th 1947, he began playing soccer for Stade Nicois then for Cavigal, one of the most important clubs in the city. Founded in 1943 by the merger of two clubs, Victorine and Galea, Cavigal was famous for its training. Baratelli was one of the talents who flourished in this "nursery". In 1967 he signed his first professional contract, joining Ajaccio. The Corsican club had just been promoted to the first division, only two years after turning professional. But within the elite, Baratelli was not given the chance to shine. In 1971, when the club finished the season in sixth place, Baratelli returned to Nice.
He was recruited by Olympique Gymnaste Club Nice, a club which had a glorious period in the 1950s (league champions four times in 1951, 1952, 1956 and 1959). When Baratelli joined them in the 1970’s they were emerging from a lack-lustre decade, what with seasons in the second division followed by a strong second place finish in the first division in 1968. Baratelli found great players in the "Gym" who had been recruited by the club’s chairman Roger Loeuillet. He played alongside Claude Quittet, the captain of France, Charly Loubet, Hervé Revelli, Roger Jouve, Jean-Marc Guillou, Sweden's Leif Eriksson or the Dutch international Dirk Van Jik, who had been Johan Cruyff’s Ajax teammate in Amsterdam. However, this heady mix did not get the expected results: in 1973 and 1976, the Eaglets of Nice were pushed into second place in the championship, while in 1978 they were defeated in the final of the Coupe de France. Disillusionment led many players to leave the Riviera club.
Baratelli transferred to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). The club was still in the process of being built up – it had been founded in 1970 – and was marked by the recent departure of its chairman, the fashion designer Daniel Hechter, after a scandal about double ticketing at the Parc des Princes. Hechter’s successor was Jean-Luc Bolelli, part of an advertising group (with Charles Talar, Christian Bernard and Cayzac Brochand), who in 1973, with the actor Jean-Paul Belmondo and Daniel Hechter, had really started the club in the French capital. Bolelli wanted to make PSG a top team and Baratelli was an integral part of the club’s successes, winning the Coupe de France in 1982 and 1983.
To his club career, which ended in 1985 with 593 games played in first division, must be added his 21 international matches. He was first selected for France in 1973 by Stefan Kovacs. He missed the first match of the 1978 World Cup, but in the second, against Argentina, he replaced the injured Jean-Paul Bertrand-Demanes. He did not make it back into the French team until 1982, after some excellent play with PSG, for what became a historic match against Italy. The match made a big impact because it was the Blues’ first victory against Italy. For 62 years the press had never stopped writing about the "age-old rivalry" between the two countries on the sports field, but between the lines they also stigmatized the run of French defeats as somehow going against what the French collectively imagined was their natural and national superiority, a top position their diplomacy was trying to impose. For Baratelli however, this triumph was short-lived, as the coach Michel Hidalgo decided not to select him for the 1982 World Cup in Spain. Although France, by reaching the semi-finals, achieved its best score since 1958, replacing Baratelli by the Monaco goalkeeper Jean-Luc Ettori attracted total incomprehension among observers and the general public.
At the end of his career, Baratelli went back to the Riviera to coach the amateur team of Cagnes-sur-Mer, near Nice, before being offered a rather humble job by the municipality as sports instructor.
Paul Dietschy, «Le Paris-Saint-Germain dans le football français et européen», Bulletin des Amis du Vieux Saint-Germain, n° 39 année 2002, p. 273-291.
Gérard Ejnès (dir.), L’Équipe de France de football. La belle histoire, Paris, Ed. L’Équipe, 2004, 383 p.
Michel Oreggia, OGC Nice 100 ans de passion, Nice, Giletta, 2004, 199 p.