Coach Daniel Leclercq, a technician with a famous face in the French football landscape, died at the age of 70, announced Friday RC Lens, the "Druid" had led to the title of champion of France in 1998. The one who earned this nickname as much for his coaching qualities as for his physique recognizable by his sparse white hair, died out following a pulmonary embolism, according to the daily newspaper La Voix du Nord.
"Iconic figure" of RC Lens
Man of the North, born in Trith-Saint-Léger, in the suburbs of Valenciennes, Leclercq has spent his entire coaching career in this region and in neighboring Belgium, including a mandate as coach of Lens (1997-1999) then as sports director of the artesian club (2008-2011) and two passages in Valenciennes (1986-1987 and 2003-2005). But before scouring the benches of Bauvin, Bavay, Guesnain, Billy-Berclau, the Louviéroise (in Belgium), Valenciennes, Arleux-Fechain and finally Douai (experience ended in 2017), Daniel Leclercq had a first career as a professional player of good standing, as a central defender. He scored more than 350 Ligue 1 games, including the colors of Olympique de Marseille (1970-1971 and 1972-1974) but especially those of Lens (1974-1983). "Player, coach and emblematic figure of the club, Daniel Leclercq will remain forever in our memories," said the artesian club on its website.
Mythical season in 1998
With the "Blood and Gold", Daniel Leclercq wrote his legend in 1998 during a season that will remain legendary for all supporters of the stadium Bollaert. That year, just before the triumph of the French team at the 1998 World Cup at home, Leclercq manages to draw the quintessence of its workforce, with the figurehead of players like Tony Vairelles, Guillaume Warmuz , Jean-Guy Wallemme or Frédéric Déhu, Vladimir Smicer and Anto Drobnjak. He won the title of champion, the only one in the history of Lens, after a terrific mano mano with Metz, only ahead of goal difference. The same season, Daniel Leclercq leads his troops also at the Stade de France, for a Coupe de France final lost against the Paris SG Raï. In 1999, still at the Stade de France, he took his revenge by registering another line in the charts Lensois: he won the Coupe de la Ligue, beating Metz in the final (1-0)