Thursday, February 7, 2013

7 February 2004 - The Young Yoann Gourcuff

On 7 February 2004, Yoann Gourcuff made his Ligue 1 debut, coming on as a late substitute for Rennes in a loss to Auxerre. He later went on to become the league's Player of the Year.

The French midfielder joined the club as a youth player in 2001 when his father took over as manager, then signed with them as a professional in 2003. His first appearance with the first team came in January 2004 in a 2-0 win over Croix-de-Savoie in the Coupe de France, leading to his league appearance the next month.

He was on the bench as eleventh-place Rennes hosted third-place Auxerre and watched as the hosts went down 0-2 to goals from Philippe Mexès (16') and Bonaventure Kalou (54'). That was still the score when Gourcuff entered the match as Rennes' third and final sub, replacing Cédric Barbosa in the 77th minute, and remained the margin when the final whistle blew.

It was the first of nine Ligue 1 appearances for Gourcuff that season, followed by an additional 57 before he left for AC Milan in 2006. But in 2008, he returned to France to play for Bordeaux, winning both the league and the Coupe de la Ligue in the 2008-09 season. He was then voted the league's Player of the Year and, later, the French Player of the Year.

In 2010, he left Bordeaux for Lyon, but injuries have hampered his time there, restricting him to a total of 40 league appearances in his first two seasons there.

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