Romain Rouillard (interview by Stéphane Burgatt) / Photo credit: CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU / AFP 22:19 p.m., May 25, 2023

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of OM's victory in the Champions League, the mayor of Marseille, Benoît Payan, retraces for Europe 1 his still fresh memories of this Wednesday, May 26, 1993. The elected evokes a Phocaean city in turmoil whose heart beat only for this match, which has become historic.

Three weeks ago, Napoli won the third Italian league title in its history, the first since the Maradona era. The jubilation and intoxication that invaded the streets of this volcanic city in southern Italy have certainly revived many memories more than 1,000 kilometers away. Because 30 years ago, Marseille was living a similar experience. His team had just won the first Champions League in its history after a final won against AC Milan and its constellation of stars. A match that tipped the Phocaean city in total euphoria.


READ ALSO – Marseille, European champion in 93: "I made the stamp", Henri Stambouli returns to a famous anecdote

Aged 15 at the time, the current PS mayor of Marseille, Benoît Payan, looked back on the evening of May 26, 1993 without forgetting the few days that preceded this moment of history. "Before that night, there were crazy days. And the closer you got to that moment, the more you felt the stress rise in the city," he recalls. The mayor describes a Phocaean city entirely focused on this final. "Everyone had the scarf: bus drivers, subway drivers, the elderly, men, women... It was madness here. You have to imagine a city in blue and white whose heart beats to the rhythm of OM."

"I couldn't stay put"

Naturally, all Marseille supporters who have experienced this moment of glory remember with precision the place where they were at the moment of vibrating. For Benoît Payan, it was "at [my] grandparents' house". "You could hear the neighbors, it was in the street, it was everywhere. In fact, everyone was doing the same thing about watching this game." With the tension and pressure that accompanied these 90 minutes suspended in time. "I couldn't stay put. I couldn't watch the game sitting down. I was standing, I was turning...", confides the elected Marseille.


READ ALSO – "Not opponents": Barthez amazed in front of the players of Milan during the final of the Champions League in 1993

Before the final whistle comes to deliver an entire city. "I remember, it was the sweaty hands, the heart throbbing. You have to imagine that we are all in this state. It was a city that beat in unison, there was one heart and that's great. There are not many cities in the world that live like this," insists Benoît Payan. Moments of "collective madness, absolute happiness" that will "leave us and leave me with imperishable memories," concludes the mayor.