Jacques Piriou: family saga at US Concarneau

Friday May 19, 94th minute of the National match between Concarneau and Bourg-en-Bresse. After a completely crazy scenario, Antoine Rabillard scored the goal of deliverance by lobbing the opposite goalkeeper (3-2). In a sold-out Guy-Piriou stadium, the 5,800 spectators let their joy explode. At the top of the bleachers, alongside the coach of the France team Didier Deschamps, the president of the club Jacques Piriou savors the moment. “He who has not had any emotion at the final whistle can only be a cold-blooded animal”, confides the leader.

A solid club in 112 years of existence

However, the Concarnois know it: the most important match of recent years will take place this Friday, May 26, in Orléans. If successful, the Thoniers will access the Ligue 2 championship for the first time in their history. “We will play our entire National championship in a single match. And inevitably, there is a little stress, ”admits Jacques Piriou. A victory, synonymous with consecration for the man at the helm of the club since 2003? ” No. It would be the consecration of a whole club, ”he corrects.

“Success goes from the volunteers who run the snack bars to the educators. If we are there, it is also thanks to the various coaches who have worked well, ”argues the Breton with sparkling blue eyes. The latter is also keen to highlight the seriousness of its structure: in 112 years of existence, “the club has never filed for bankruptcy and has always had the same name”, he underlines.

At the table, we talked either about work or football. There was no middle man

However, it is clear that the history of USC is also that of a family saga. At the Piriou, there was first Guy and Michel. In Concarneau (29), the two brothers are above all known for having founded the eponymous shipyards in 1965. In addition to boats, football also held an important place in their lives. “My father Guy was president of USC from 1983 to 1993. My uncle Michel played, for his part, in the first team for 20 years”, relates Jacques Piriou. A maritime and sporting environment that has always fueled family conversations: “At the table, we talked about either work or football. There was no middleman,” laughs the current leader.

Blue socks and pebbles on the ground

He himself was born “with blue socks”, signing his first license at USC at the age of seven. “I remember training very well. All the players started on the goal line, then, with a bucket, we had to pick up the stones on the ground, ”recalls the one who, in 2023, began his 57th consecutive year with the Thoniers club.

Jacques Piriou, in front of the signed jersey of the France team, during the match against Belgium in 2013. A garment offered by Didier Deschamps himself! (The Telegram/Guirec Flécher)

On the professional side, he built his career at the shipyard of his father and his uncle until becoming its CEO from 1999 to 2006. His younger brother, Pascal Piriou, took over until 2020 before moving hand to new leaders. The youngest, just as passionate about the sport as the eldest, is now the president of the Ligue de Bretagne de tennis. A closeness of always between the harbor and the football which made it possible “to give a big helping hand to the club”, does not hide the sexagenarian.

I try to bring my stone to the building as did my predecessors

Will the latter leave a legacy as substantial as that of his father, whose name the municipal stadium has borne since 2011? “That’s not what worries me. I work for all those who work daily for the good of the club. When I started at seven years old, I was very happy that people agreed to help me progress. Then, one day, the torch was passed to me and I have since tried to bring my stone to the building as my predecessors did, ”says the president. He nevertheless notes a reason for satisfaction: having launched, in 2017, a simplified joint-stock company (SAS) in parallel with the association, which holds 20% of the capital.

This Friday, May 26,
This Friday, May 26, “if there is a victory, we will have a great party”, assures the president of the US Concarneau Jacques Piriou (Le Télégramme / Guirec Flécher)

Because, if the hour of retirement has not yet arrived for the leader, who will still have to face many challenges, he has set himself an objective: “That the club can be sufficiently structured on the day when I should leave for any reason”. A long road traveled that he would never have been able to do without the support of the one who has shared his life for 42 years, Christine. “Sometimes she tells me that I should go back to the construction site, because she saw me more often than when I was at the club! he laughs.

It’s time for this to end…

And time at the stadium, Jacques Piriou should still spend it. This Friday, his gaze and all the others will be turned towards Orléans. So, tonight, how will the president feel if his team joins Ligue 2? At this question, the voice of our interlocutor tightens and a few tears mist his eyes. “It’s time for it to end… When you get to the end, there’s a moment when you’re empty. What is certain is that if there is a victory, we will have a great party”. Emotion, again and again.

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