Meet Perrichet – the man who flew France home

Air France Captain Guilhem Perrichet reveals how he got to hold and kiss the World Cup with Paul Pogba singing through the Passenger Address System.

Air France Captain Guilhem Perrichet with the FIFA World Cup 2018 on board.   -  TWITTER/ @GPerrichet

Guilhem Perrichet, 59, was just another Captain with Air France and the fleet manager of Boeing 777 till July 16 this year.

After Didier Deschamps’ men beat Belgium in the 2018 FIFA World Cup semifinals sailing on Samuel Umtiti’s header, Perrichet got notified of what would bring him under spotlight.

“As the Boeing Fleet Manager, I was informed at the very beginning that Air France had been chosen to bring the team back home after the finals.” he said.

France back then had just secured its place in the finals.

“I’m not a fan and have never even seen a single football match in my life! But I decided to choose the crew myself as too many pilots would have loved to do it and I couldn’t have satisfied everybody. Later, I chose my first officer. I had never met him before, and when I called him he probably thought it was a joke.” he said.

But Perrichet understood the passion involved with football.

“I understood the meaning of all the moments, shared by millions of people around France and the world. Good feelings... good times to share.

“I knew that one of the players (talking about Kylian Mbappe) announced that he would give his earnings to charity, and this is really a very good image to send to the world. For that I’m proud of the French team,” he added.

 

After France beat Croatia 4-2 in Moscow to lift the World Cup, the journey back to Charles de Gaulle was way different than it normally is. “You usually talk to your family, friend or colleague in a plane, not to everybody! Moreover everybody was still in celebration mood after the previous night.”

And when it’s the Les Bleus, how can one miss the energy of Paul Pogba? “Pogba as he is, cracked jokes which set everyone rolling. He played music on his speakers and started to sing along with it. He even sang through the Passenger Address System! The tiredness of the players hardly showed,” Perrichet said.

Perrichet even posed with Antoine Griezmann in one of the pictures that he posted on his Twitter handle. “My deputy at the Boeing Fleet, Brahim, is really fanatic when it comes to football so I invited him to come along. I introduced him as my technical assistant on the flight. When Griezmann came into the cockpit he went crazy but somehow managed to strike a conversation when he came back to his senses. When he left the cockpit, I asked Brahim who Griezmann was.”

Perrichet with Antoine Griezmann in the cockpit.   -  TWITTER/ @GPerrichet

 

This was not the first time though that Perrichet has flown with the French national football team. “I was 39 and already a Captain with Air France when Deschamps won the World Cup as a captain in 1998. I had had a flight with the French team then too. All I know is that Deschamps really did a great job with these players. He’s a great manager and this is a huge performance.”

Interestingly, he also got to kiss and hold the coveted trophy for a photo. But did it matter much for him? “Just six kilograms of gold, not that heavy for me, but tons of glory for players, tons of pride for France, an honour for me,” he signed off.

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