The Club

Marcel Leclerc, the rebuilder

Marcel Leclerc will remain as one of the historic presidents of Olympique de Marseille. A personality with a very particular character who brought OM to the top of French football when the club was on the brink of disaster just a few years earlier. Born on August 14, 1921 in Marseille, Marcel Leclerc studied in Draguignan and Marseille where he practiced football at the Stade Marseillais University Club and water polo Chevalier-Roze. He began his career in journalism as a freelancer for Le Méridonial. In the 1950s, he created Télé-Magazine, the first weekly devoted to television programs. He became the owner of Press Croisistes, L'Economiste de Paris and But!

 

Marcel Leclerc avec Magnusson à gauche et Skoblar à droite
Marcel Leclerc avec Magnusson à gauche et Skoblar à droite

 

Ancestor of the naturalist Buffon or Charles Leclerc - Napoleon's father-in-law - Marcel made himself truly beloved as president of Olympique de Marseille. An authoritarian and charming man, he took power at OM in 1965 while the club was in second division, on the verge of filing for bankruptcy. The fans were then far from suspecting that Cleric would write one of the most beautiful pages in the history of the club.

 

THE COMEBACK IN LIGUE 1

 

From his first season at the head of the club, he made a financial contribution, recruiting eight players and leading OM to finish second place in D2, winning promotion to the top tier. What first season of Leclerc! Under his authority, OM found the Stade de l'Huveaune against the advice of the mayor of the city, Gaston Defferre. Les Marseillais did not go down in the lower echelon the following season and Leclerc further strengthened the workforce. He recruited Josip Skoblar on loan in December 1966 (he returned in 1969) and Roger Magnusson in the 1968 offseason. He made two big splashes a few years later by recruiting Etienne Bernard Bosquier and Georges Carnus in the summer of 1971.

 

During his presidency, Leclerc soared with OM’s two trophies as champions of France (1971, 1972) and two trophies in the Coupe de France (1969, 1972). The Provencal club won the historic double Cup Championship under Leclerc. Marseille players paraded by bus in Marseille -- taking no less than six hours to go from the Velodrome to City Hall! An anthology of anecdotes, more or less original, surround Marcel Leclerc. One of the most famous is undoubtedly the jump into the Old Port. At the beginning of 1969, after a difficult OM victory against Avignon in the round of 32 in the Coupe de France (1-0), Marcel Leclerc ensures that "if we win the Cup, I throw myself, fully dressed, in the waters of the Old Port". Marseille beats Bordeaux in the final in May 1969 (2-0) and the next day, Leclerc keeps his word and throws himself into the waters of the Phocaean port.

 

THE SUCCESS

 

During the 1968/69 season, he separated from coach Robert Domergue. During the 1971/72 season, Leclerc relieves Lucien Leduc while OM is seven points clear in the league. Marcel Leclerc is a character apart, able to sack Mario Zatelli several times and recall him twice but his decisions paid off since OM had a successful period during his presidency.

 

But Marcel Leclerc, accused of embezzling money, was forced to retire in July 1972. He died on April 21, 1983 at the age of 63 following a car accident on the A6 motorway. Leclerc resuscitated OM during his presidency.