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Warning: Story contains coarse language
Louis Nicollin, the individualist who dedicated his life to Montpellier HSC, died on Thursday, his 74th birthday.
Montpellier issued a statement reading: “It is with great sadness that we have learned of the death of our president Louis Nicollin this Thursday, June 29. All our thoughts to his wife Colette, his children Olivier and Laurent, his family, his relatives and the loves of the Paillade that he loved so much.
Nicollin was a larger-than-life character who was atypical of the presidents in Ligue 1. He ruled the Paillade for a period that encompassed four decades and became renowned for his outrageous behaviour. He once promised to become a monk if the French club won the Champions League, declaring, according to the Guardian’s Amy Lawrence: “I will become a monk and as I have many fans who want me to become a monk, then so be it. Naked under my robe, like real monks, without any socks in the winter. A real monk. I like that.”
When Montpellier conquered Ligue 1 in 2011-12, he fulfilled a promise made to Remy Cabella, emulating the French attacker’s hairstyle.
(Photo courtesy: Getty Images)
Nicollin, who first became involved in Montpellier in the 1970s, also made news when he lost an anti-homophobia award he had won six weeks earlier. He was asked why he had missed a game on the radio, to which he replied: “It was too stressful for me. Okay yes, I’m a fag, but at the very last moment, I got scared.”
When Nicollin started working at Montpellier, the Paillade had just lost its status as a professional club. Last season, a 15th-place finish was achieved in Ligue 1.