‘I felt tears in my eyes’ – how tiny Réunion team stunned French football | Paul Doyle

JS Saint-Pierroise, the amateur side from the Indian Ocean island, are the first club from a French overseas territory to reach the last 32 of the Coupe de France in 31 years

Until a couple of weeks ago JS Saint-Pierroise were best known, paradoxically, as a byword for footballing obscurity. They are the remote club from which a 38?year?old Roger Milla was summoned out of semi-retirement to take the 1990 World Cup by storm. Since then several other dwindling strikers have followed in the Cameroonian’s footsteps but without the sensational late-career twist. Jean-Pierre Papin and Djibril Cissé have decided that a sojourn with the leading club on Réunion, an island in the Indian Ocean nearly 1,000km east of Madagascar, was a darling way to wind down their playing days.

A few forwards have done things the other way around, with Réunion?born Dimitri Payet being the most notable player to start his career at Saint-Pierroise before finding fame elsewhere. The former Liverpool attacker Florent Sinama?Pongolle also began there and went back to play for them last year at the age of 34 before cutting short his stay in order to take up a punditry gig with French TV. But now all eyes are on Saint-Pierroise thanks to the exploits of the whole team, who have made history in this season’s Coupe de France.

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