Francis Smerecki, who enjoyed an outstanding career in France as a club and national youth team coach, and a winner of UEFA competitions, has died at the age of 68.
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Former EA Guingamp and France youth coach Francis Smerecki has passed away at the age of 68.
A midfielder in his playing years with Le Mans UC 72, Stade Lavallois MFC, Paris FC and Limoges FC, Smerecki moved into coaching with Limoges in 1984. After five years with US Dunkerque, he joined Valenciennes FC and led them back into France's top division in 1991/92.
He took charge of third-division outfit Guingamp, and took them into the top flight within two years. His side were also one of the three final winners in the 1996 UEFA Intertoto Cup. The following season, Guingamp reached their first French Cup final, losing on penalties to OGC Nice. Voted best French top division coach of 1995 in a France Football poll, Smerecki went on to join the French Football Federation (FFF) in 2004.
He was national coach of various France youth teams (Under-16 in 2006/07, U17 in 2007/08, U18 in 2008/09 and 2011/12, U19 in 2009/10, 2012 and 2014, and U20 between 2004 and 2006, in 2010/11 and 2014/15). Under his guidance, Antoine Griezmann, Alexandre Lacazette, Francis Coquelin, Clément Grenier, Cédric Bakambu, and Gaël Kakuta won the 2010 UEFA European Under-19 Championship.
"Francis was a great technician, a man of great value," said FFF president Noël Le Graët. "He was appreciated by everyone for his humanity and friendliness, and for six years I personally appreciated his human qualities when he coached En Avant Guingamp [Le Graët was Guingamp's president at the time]. The federation and French football are losing a very competent personality and trainer."