No sooner had Fufa unveiled Sebastien Desabre, 41, as the new Cranes coach at Fufa House in Mengo last December, than social media lit up with comments from ladies vowing to return to football; what, with Desabre’s hot looks!
The Frenchman talked to Quick Talk last Friday in his Mengo office.
Since you arrived, Uganda has been scotching hot…
Phew! I do not think the heat is much of a problem anymore [Desabre speaks with a heavy French accent, meanwhile.] I am getting used to it now. And when I am in my office here at Fufa House and in my hotel room, heat is not a problem there.
Okay. And what is your general feeling about Kampala and Uganda?
Oh! I like the place. It is full of nice and beautiful people. They say hello. They are happy to talk to me and make me feel happy. Uganda has good and friendly people.
I like Africa. My wife actually loves it more in Africa [Desabre appears perplexed that I am asking him questions that are not football-related.]
Great! Have you been able to hang out?
Hang out? What is that? [I introduce him to Uga-speak, explaining that it means going to places to have fun and chillax…] No! I do not know many places here. But I have visited Acacia mall, and had coffee there. Nice place.
Ah! So, you are a coffee guy? [Even during the interview, Desabre asks Ahmed Hussein, the Fufa publicist, to tell the Fufa ‘tea girl’ to prepare him coffee.]
Yes of course, we French people like coffee. But it is not the main drink I take; when I am out with my friends and family, I am a person of white wine.
No. White wine.
Have you tried any Ugandan dishes?
Yes, when we were in Mbarara, I ate something that was really nice. Is it…bananas?
You mean matooke?
Is that what you call it?
I guess that is what you are referring to…
I ate it with some groundnut sauce [definitely matoke it was] and it was really good. I liked it.
And apart from football, what hobbies do you have?
Yes. Things you do in your free-time?
Watch football. I watch a lot of football.
But that cannot be the only thing you do, Coach. I am sure you have other things that interest you.
Yes. I like reading books. Many of them are by French writers. But I am not sure you know them [He speaks softly and slowly]. I also spend a lot of my free time with my family.
Oh! I did not know that your family was in town.
My wife should be coming down in a few days. My sons are in school back in France. But they should also be joining me soon. I am trying to look for some good schools for them here. I hope I can find them.
How many children do you have?
Two sons. One is 14 and the other is 15.
Yes. [I suggest to him that by Ugandan standards, those are few, and he just smiles.]
By the way, when you arrived, so many women on social media were excited. They said Fufa had hired a very handsome coach!
Handsome? [He frowns with a little smile at the same time.] But I do not think being handsome is really important [Hmm. It is, if it is going to bring female supporters to your games…]
The ladies really like you, going by how many were commenting.
Hahahaha…The important thing here is that they should focus on the football and how well I prepare The Cranes to play [Yes Coach! And ladies, you’ve read it here; coach is happily married.]
Even your fashion style attracts a lot of attention. Do you have any particular design house you buy from?
No. I do not focus on such things. It is my wife who chooses what I wear. Maybe when she comes over, I will invite you and you ask her why she chooses these clothes for me.
You are really a dedicated family man.
Of course. My wife and children are everything to me. They give me a lot of support.
Okay, as we wind up, being French, Zinedine Zidane [the Real Madrid coach] must surely be your all-time favourite French footballer, right?
Zidane? No. My best-ever French star was Eric Cantona [a Manchester United legend]. When he left France to play in England, he became very famous. He also made the country famous. As a young boy, I grew up following him.
As for Zidane…well, I think it is because we are in the same generation. I did not care much about him. But Cantona and David Ginola? Fantastic players.
So, Cantona is the best football player you have seen?
Actually, the best football player I have seen is Diego Maradona of Argentina!
You must love Manchester United; Cantona is a legend there.
You will be surprised; I do not really follow one football team as many Ugandans here do. I just love watching good football.
As a boy, I grew up supporting Auxerre. But I played football for a team in our second tier league, known as Cannes. But right now, I keenly follow Nice, because that is where I stay in France. And at the same time, one of the players I coached when I was at Asec Mimosas in Ivory Coast, Michel Seri, plays for Nice. He is a top midfielder. Watch him.
[As you may have noticed, Quick Talk at this point replaced his hat with a sportsman one as the interview continued for the sports pages.]