A few days ago we learned of the death of Jean-Paul Belmondo, one of the best known actors of the French Nouvelle Vague and famous for his roles as a seductive scoundrel. His acting career was undoubtedly the main reason for his fame, but there was one facet that few knew about: his unconditional love for Paris Saint Germain.
In 1970, following a campaign that garnered more than 20,000 signatures, the residents of Paris decided they wanted to create a major football club of their own for the French capital. That request reached the ears of a group of businessmen including Jean-Paul, a football fan but more versed in boxing and tennis than the beautiful game, and soon after Paris FC was founded. The newly created Parisian team reached an agreement with Saint-Germain-en-Laye of the French Ligue 2 (second division) to merge into one, Paris Saint Germaine, with the idea of reaching the elite of football in France. That same year the team not only achieved the goal of promotion but they did it by becoming champions.
The following year, in the 1971 – 1972 season, after problems in the club’s board of directors, the team split in two, resulting in Paris Saint Germaine being relegated to the third division and Paris FC remaining in Ligue 1 after merging with CA Montreuil. Jean-Paul Belmondo at that time decided to bet on PSG despite the relegation, and in just 2 years he saw his decision rewarded with his team being promoted to the top flight while Paris FC was relegated to the second division that same year.
The first investors were the publisher and publicist Francis Borelli, Belmondo himself and Daniel Hechter, a famous couture designer. After starting out in white, Hechter designed the Club’s new shirt inspired by the big red stripe of Ajax, a team he admired.
PSG’s official colours were the blue and red of Paris FC and the white of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, a city located next to the French capital. In the early years, the club wore a red shirt, white shorts and blue socks, but from 1973, they adopted the model that is more recognisable today. Blue jersey with a red vertical bar in the middle framed by two white stripes as well as blue shorts and blue socks. The coat of arms was created from elements of the city of Paris (the silhouette of the Eiffel Tower) and Saint-Germain (the royal birthplace of Louis XIV). In 2013 the coat of arms was redesigned by removing the cradle but keeping the fleur-de-lis, another symbol of King Louis XIV.
Since the 1973-74 season, Jean-Paul Belmondo has never again seen his beloved team relegated and even celebrated with the squad the championships won in 1985-86, 1993-94 and 2012-13. The actor was a personality always visible in every match at the Field of Princes and one of the people who did the most for the signing of Ronaldinho Gaúcho.
At 88 years of age, Jean-Paul has left a mark on Paris that will be hard to erase, and a club that rose from third division to become a recognised football elite, proving that a small individual dream can become a legacy for millions of fans.