Leon aims to achieve past glory under the leadership of new American owner Textor

Paris (AFP) – The last time Lyon won the Ligue 1 title in 2008, the club’s new American owner was celebrating with an award of his own.

Visual effects company John Textor won an Academy Award for its groundbreaking work in the making of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” a huge box office movie starring Brad Pitt.

Lyon fans hope Textor’s arrival will have a special impact on the club’s declining fortunes.

In the years since their last seven successive titles, Lyon have faded as Paris Saint-Germain’s tight grip on French football fades under their cash-rich Qatari ownership. Since QSI seized power in June 2011, Paris Saint-Germain have won eight titles while Lyon have finished second only twice.

Lyon’s string of titles from 2001 to 2008 made them a force for French football with players such as Real Madrid superstar Karim Benzema emerging through the club’s famous youth academy, and others such as Brazilian midfielder Juninho or Ghanaian ball-winning Michael Essien making his name. .

But after Bordeaux ended Lyon’s run in 2009, the club’s fortunes faltered – despite the constant influx of young talent. Juninho’s tenure as sporting director was unsuccessful and he left last December.

The club finished last season in poor eighth place, 25 points behind Paris Saint-Germain. Ten league defeats and 51 goals conceded – the most allowed by any top-ten club – made for grim statistics.

Something had to change and old owner Jean-Michel Aulas – who bought the club 35 years ago and oversaw its rise – bet on Textor.

Instantly, Textor made himself the darling of Lyon’s fan base with a swipe.