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Start Believing: From doll's house to dog house for Domenech

Start Believing: From doll's house to dog house for Domenech

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A mascot given to the former France boss before the disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign features in the latest in our series chronicling the extraordinary power of belief

However much of a hard man you are, you’re never too big to have your mum fight your corner. Raymond Domenech, infamous as a brutal tackler as a player before becoming even more infamous as France’s coach, knew that at least his mum had his back when the rest of the world appeared to be on it.

In fact, Germaine Domenech was so keen that her boy should succeed at the 2010 World Cup – particularly after Euro 2008, when he reacted to France’s premature exit by proposing to his mortified girlfriend Estelle Denis live on television – that she made him a lucky charm.

So before Raymond packed his bags for South Africa, pensioner Germaine presented him with a black doll she’d knitted, replete in France team kit. “It’s no big thing, but for this World Cup,” Germaine told her local newpaper Midi Libre in an interview. “I really thought they could do it. Raymond took a good team: [Nicolas] Anelka, [Franck] Ribery, [Florent] Malouda, [Djibril] Cisse ..."

But the lucky charm didn't work as France returned home in disgrace after no wins equalled a group stage exit, precipitated by huge rows within the camp and the ‘Bus of Shame’ incident. The exception was Anelka, whose enormous bust-up with Domenech saw him sent home early by the French Football Federation (FFF).

Madame Domenech may have been no soothsayer, but she told French radio station RTL shortly after the competition that she’d like to meet Anelka, who so famously tore a strip off her son during half-time of the defeat against Mexico, leading to his expulsion, to give him “a mother’s point of view,” she said.

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