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There is only one Sauzee – When Le God graced Easter Road

The majority of Hibs fans of a certain vintage will agree with the title of Ted Brack’s latest book “There is only one Sauzée”. The mention of Le God brings a smile to the face of Hibs fans with just a tinge of regret that things ain’t what they used to be.

The Sauzée era started when then manager Alex McLeish was given cash and pretty much a free rein from the Hibs board to find players who could bring back flair and panache to Easter Road. Managing to persuade a player who had pretty much done it all to come to Scotland and Hibs must go down as one magnificent selling job done by McLeish. Sauzée and McLeish had played against each other in the past and recognised a shared viewpoint on how football should be played. The game is often called the Beautiful Game and when Sauzée was on the ball in a green and white strip, alongside Russell Latapy and Mixu Paatelainen, I am sure many would agree that it deserved that grand title.

Reading the book brought back some memories of fine games and players who played in the supporting cast. However, the tingle in the back of the neck which comes when reading about your heroes did not happen often enough for me. Sauzee graced Scotland with his presence and style but I did not get the impression that the impact he made on the game up here is fully explored in the book. There does not appear to be any quotes from anybody without a Hibs connection. While that may be understandable to a degree, I think the book could have been improved with views from the opposition that were tortured by Sauzée’s gifts.

Of course, we get quotes from Pat Stanton, Lawrie Reilly, Alex McLeish etc, but the biggest omission is any kind of words of reflection from the main man himself. During Sauzée’s time at Hibs he made it quite clear just how much he felt for the club and their supporters. His affection for all things Hibs was clear and unheard of before or since really from any other player for their club. The book reminds us that he could have come along, taken the money, and cruised to a well-paid retirement. Sauzée was not that kind of man and Brack records just how influential Le God was to the team in the three years he played for Hibs. No Sauzée and the team did not click. Simple as that. Football is a team game but you need the right attitude from the members of the team to get the best out of them. Sauzée always wanted to win and it showed. He could not understand anybody not doing their utmost for the club and the fans.

There is a great book out there waiting to be written, and perhaps finally a great football film, if Le God relented from his quiet life and wrote his autobiography. Nobody would believe it of course from European Cup winner to picking up a dispirited Hibs side and showing them, and Scotland, the way to play football. While ‘There is only one Sauzee’ should be required reading for any Hibs fan and player, Le God’s autobiography, if ever written, should be compulsory reading for anybody interested in football as it should be played.

‘There is only one Sauzée; When Le God graced Easter Road’ by Ted Brake is published today by Black and White Publishing and is priced £17.99.

Review by Ger Harley | Photos provided by Edinburgh Elite photography

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