FC Servette 1994 - 1998
In the summer of 1994, the reigning champion Servette bought David Sesa from Zurich for CHF 380'000 (Swiss francs). In Zurich, the value of the new players was not recognized, even after the wonderful season performing with Baden. This was one of the reasons why he decided to move to Geneva, in French Switzerland. In Geneva, in order to try and get settled, David was at first hosted by a family and then moved to a flat of his own.
At the beginning of 1994/95 season, the national players Christophe Ohrel and Marco Grassi left the club and headed to Brittany after receiving an offer from Rennes. Regis Rothenbühler had already put an end to his football career at an early age. Other players to leave were Gaetano Giallanza and Andy Egli. On the other side, apart from Sesa, Servette’s latest signings were Juarez De Souza, René Weiler, and Teslim Fatusi, the latter being from the Nigerian Olympic National Team. Other skilled players, some of them beloging to the top football clubs, would have come later on. Despite this, the team was hard to gather and since the beginning had its back to the wall. This clearly showed in the match against Steaua Bukarest during the qualification to the Champions League. At the end of the season Geneva was in the tenth position with 19 points gained in 22 matches. They ended up in the relegation round. Then, Stéphane Paille and Hans Eklund left the team too. Bernhard Challandes replaced the trainer Ilja Petkovic in March 1995. In the relegation round, Servette placed forth. A place below would have meant demotion to the second division, which would have been almost the first demotion in the club’s history.
1995/96 – Cup final
After the unsuccessfull season of 1994/95 a turning point was needed. Djurovski, Schepull, Mild, Sinval, Prinz, Sauthier, and Paille left. The generational change had already been highlighted in the previous relegation round thanks to Luca Ippoliti, Jean-Philippe Karlen, and the extraordinary ability of Patrick Müller. Later on, other young players like Carlos Varela and Lionel Pizzinat joined the team, along with the Swedish Jan Eriksson and the centre forward Jonathan Sogbie. Servette played another intense qualification round and, by reaching the sixth place, was admitted to the final round. In February 1996 trainer Bernard Challandes was replaced by Umberto Barberis. At the end of the season, Servette reached the seventh place in the rank. The top scorers were Oliver Neuville and David Sesa, the first totaling 15 and the latter eight scores. In the Cup, Servette scratched in sequence, Chênois, Renens, YB, Aarau, and Xamax. On 19th May 1996 Servette faced the Sion in stadium Wankdorf in Bern. After half an hour Karlen brought Servette ahead by scoring 1-0, thanks to Sesa’s corner kick. At the 61st minute Gaspoz missed the ball, allowing Neuville to score a 2-0 lead for Servette. The atmosphere was electric. Would Servette be the first team ever to defeat Sion in a Cup final? Anyway, by scoring twice in three minutes, the team from the Valais opened the match again and won it thanks to Vidmar, who scored in the 74th minute. How disappointing it was for David Sesa and Servette!
1996/97 – The transition
After losing the Cup final, Umberto Barberis was replaced by Vujadin Boskov, one of the most important trainers in the European scene, who with Real Madrid and Sampdoria, had won respectively the Championship and the Cup. However, predictions were negative. Neuville left for Teneriffa (first division) and the goalkeeper Pascolo went to play with Cagliari, in Sardinia. The next to leave the team were René Weiler, Jean-Michel Aeby, Jan Eriksson, and Denis Duchosal. On the other hand, apart from Cyrille Pouget (Metz‘s former player), Alexandre Rey, Anderson de Oliveira, Biaggi, and Mario Cantaluppi joined the team.
After performing a feeble qualification round, Servette reached the ninth position with 22 points gained out of 22 games played, which marked the dreaded return to the relegation round. The team, which two and a half years before had failed, was discovered and completely renovated by the French television station Canal+. Under the guidance of Christian Herve (president) and Patrick Trotignon (general director) a new, highly promising system was implemented. In January, Guy Mathez was appointed new coach by Canal+. In the relegation round the team played 14 games and scored 25 points, which allowed them to place first. There was still a glimmer of hope. In the Swiss Cup, Servette defeated Montreux-Sports (2-0), Xamax (4-0), Basel (4-1), but lost 0-1 in Schaffhausen in the quarter-finals. This was a typical season of transition.
1997/98 – Vice-champion
It became evident very soon that the television station had applied its own ideas and strategies to the team itself. With Christian Hervé (Canal+ finance director and Servette president) and Patrick Trotignon (general director) the path to victory was marked. Players like Sébastien Barberis, Oliver Biaggi, Vaclav Nemecek, Walter Fernandez, Cyrille Pouget, Teslim Fatus, and Stefano Nava left the club. Guy Mathez was discharged after the first match of Championship (2-2 against St. Gallen). Gérard Castella, who had assisted both Vujadin Boskov and Guy Mathez, took the lead of Servette on 9th July 1997. He was able to apply his philosphy very quickly and -technically speaking- made the performance of his team impeccable. The new arrivals were Sébastien Fournier (former Stuttgart player), the Slovenian Ermin Siljak, Lantame Quadja, and the Romanian, Dan Potocianu. From the beginning, Servette turned out to be the leading team. Castella chose the flexible 3-5-2 pattern and trained Ippoliti to switch from the midfield to the attack with Sesa. In autumn, with Castella, Servette remained the undisputed leader for 13 games. Then, due to a lack of discipline (red cards) and several injuries, things started looking bad for the Genevans. In the final phase, Servette managed to make its way up again from the bottom of the ranking to the first position. However, three defeats and three draws in the last six rounds costed Servette the title, even though the Vice-Champion title seemed to be enough. David Sesa, for his part, performed a wonderful season by scoring not less than 17 goals in 30 matches.
Statistik - FC Servette
|1994 / 95||A||34||2|
|1995 / 96||A||33||8|
|1996 / 97||A||29||5|
|1997 / 98||A||30||17|