Anyone who calls PSG an ordinary buying club kicks Vermeulen’s sore leg

If Pierre Vermeulen has to compare himself with someone from the current Paris Saint-Germain, then at least with Neymar. The Brazilian superstar hopes to write history tonight, as Vermeulen once did in the French capital.

“That’s how you see that money can create something beautiful”, says Vermeulen (64) about his old club, which is driven by hundreds of millions of euros from investors from Qatar for the first time in the final of the Champions League.

But whoever calls Paris Saint-Germain an ordinary buying club kicks Vermeulen’s leg. He still knows the soccer club in its raw capacity, and 35 years ago he personally was at the basis of the first great success

Nearly degraded

“I had a great time there. And also played in an incredibly good team. We kept a series of 26 games unbeaten, then a record. And with that, we laid the foundation for the first championship in club history.”

The former lefties of Roda JC, Feyenoord and MVV ended up in Paris after a tip from Hennie Hollink to his colleague Gérard Houllier. The French coach had to take Paris Saint-Germain out of retirement after the merger club had almost been relegated the previous season

With goalkeeper Joël Bats, Luis Fernández and Dominique Rocheteau, Houllier gained access to the ashes of the French national team, which had become European champions a year earlier in their own country.

Vermeulen soon found his place among all the celebrities, partly because during a home match against Bordeaux everything fell into place for the Limburger.

“I passed international Jean-Christophe Thouvenel with a pair of scissors. My cross was capped by Jean-Marc Pilorget, who had just returned from a serious injury. It was a goal with a story, and it was on television all day long. Actually, that was my breakthrough there.”

Much remained the same

In the championship year 1985/1986 only two foreigners were allowed to line up, a huge contrast with the star ensemble of today. Nevertheless, much has remained the same in Paris.

“Of course, we all get a day older, so our contacts with the people of that time are diluted. Two years ago I went back to visit a Champions League game. I felt like almost nothing had changed there when I arrived at the stadium.”

Reporter Sierd de Vos visited Pierre Vermeulen in 1985 at Paris Saint-Germain:

The champion team of Vermeulen has even been immortalized with a mural. That does something to him. “The club is also very deep with me.”

“And later that same Chirac became president of France. Every time you see that guy on TV, you think, “I’ve been kissing him in the locker room.”

Technical power

Naturally, the club’s successes don’t leave him unmoved either. “When it’s aired, I always watch. Luckily, my wife sat outside a lot during the heat wave lately, because I sympathize passionately when I’m inside in front of the television.”

With a special mention for Neymar, who was initially said to have moved from Barcelona to PSG three years ago just for the money.

“Neymar really takes this team in tow, he even defends with him. He can be found all over the field. That’s why I see most similarities with myself in his game when I played there. I also came back a lot, unlike our other strikers back then.”

Football crazy supporters

Vermeulen was still able to walk the streets quietly in those days, but still he was regularly confronted with the football crazy supporters of the club in a fun way.

“I was once grabbed in the street during a walk through the fashion district of La République. My measurements were taken, after which I was told I had to come back later in the week. There was a leather suit waiting for me…”

Vermeulen had a good life in the French capital, where even then considerable salaries were paid for the top players. “But you also raise your standard of living. It all flies out again.”

Watch Pierre Vermeulen’s best goals in the premier league below:

After more money came into play, the pressure got higher and higher. The lack of European success seemed to become a frustration in recent years. If it were up to the media, the PSG bubble seemed to have burst several times.

“I don’t believe that”, says Vermeulen, who still works in the fan shop at Roda JC. “Rest within a club is perhaps the most important condition for performance. I’ve also seen that here in Kerkrade, where it’s a coming and going of different people.”

The key is against the Bayern Munich soccer machine especially in the details, predicts Vermeulen.

Largest match in club history

“For me, Paris Saint-Germain is a light favourite. Trainer Thomas Tuchel is also a very good one. Tactically he can vary enormously. And Bayern is absolutely not allowed to drop any stitches in the back. The chances Lyon got in the semifinals, you shouldn’t give those three in the front at PSG.”

Exactly fifty years after his first official game, a draw against Stade Poitiers on the second level of France, Paris Saint-Germain plays his biggest game in history. “The club is hungry for success.”

But regardless of the results, it’s a good reason for Vermeulen to think back to perhaps the best time of his life.