Captain of the French team of Davis Cup by BNP Paribas twice, Yannick Noah officialised his comeback for a third time. A surprise? Not really.

Captain of the French team of Davis Cup by BNP Paribas twice, Yannick Noah officialised his comeback for a third lap last week. A surprise? Not really. The French seems to have an appetite for backtracks, turnarounds and other contradictions. A human, basically. Times Five.

 

1/ «I felt a kind of frustration»

 

Captain of his team in Davis Cup by BNP Paribas from 1991 to 1992 with a silver bowl as climax won from his first year, Yannick Noah went back in business three years later, in 1995. The origin of his comeback on the bench: a vague malaise. "Since I stopped being part of the game, I felt a kind of frustration that got bigger and bigger," he explained in Tennis de France at the time. "Just hearing the words 'tennis', 'Team France' or 'Davis Cup' at dinner party was making me annoyed." To establish his credibility, Noah lost nine kilos, « I couldn't see myself like the fat dude sitting by the court and telling the guys: 'Come on, move your ass!'» Result: He did it again in 1996 with Cédric Pioline, Guillaume Raoux, Guy Forget and Arnaud Boetsch, giving the victory to France in final against Sweden. In September 1998, Noah withdrew again. The project of the national technical direction to give him not only the keys of the two French teams (the teams of Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and of Fed Cup by BNP Paribas) but also the youth teams was too demanding. "It was very interesting," he conceded in l'Equipe. "But it was assumed that I had to spend at least three months in France. At the time, it was not possible. I chose another life." Overseas, in America.

 

2/ Basket, Parisian suburbs and three bedrooms duplex apartment

  

At that time, Noah had indeed been living for several years in New York. His first two children, Joakim and Yelena, were born there. After going back to basics, Noah moved back permanently in the Big Apple in 2008 to be closer to Joakim who began a career in the NBA, the American Basketball Championship, and to "reconstruct his family, bringing everyone together, have some quality time" he confessed in Femme Actuelle magazine. A year later, he left New York again. On the 17th of the June, at the end of the school year for his kids in the local French high school.  He went to the Yvelines, near Paris, where he owns a house in the countryside. A concern? "I'll have to wake up at 4 o'clock in the morning to watch my son play basketball." Today, the French even listed his New York apartment bought in 1995: a duplex apartment with three bedrooms, separate toilet and a breath-taking view of Central Park. Value: 8 million euros. Bargain.

 

3/ «It was by fear of the future»

 

June 2012. A Senate Inquiry Committee examined a subject as vast than complicated: tax evasion. To do this, the Sages had the right idea to audition Yannick Noah. Who, between 1991 and 1993, went to Switzerland before returning to pay his taxes in France. A tax comeback that has always stuck to his socks. If Noah left home, "it was by fear of the future," he explained before this audience with senior officials. Before setting the record straight: "I had a moment of doubt after my career. I did it to save money. Since I returned to France. I've been here for almost 20 years. Throughout my career as a tennis player, I paid my taxes in France." After making it in the entertainment industry, Noah was well aware of his new dimension, “Now, if I had been an international star, earning fifty times more in the United States, would I like to pay my taxes here? Definitely not. [...] I will not advise my son who has spent his entire career in the United States to come here and pay 75% of his earnings, that would be absurd." Silence in the room. Before saying: "I talked too much."

 

4/ «Actually, I think that it’s better to stay»

 

During his singing career, Yannick Noah never had any trouble selling records. But last year, the artist has experienced some difficulties. His latest album, Combats ordinaires, didn’t meet the expected success, and he’s been struggling to sell concert tickets. Why the sudden disenchantment? "I think that I've made some mistakes, took positions that may not have been heard or understood." Noah considers that his political commitments - for François Hollande during the last presidential campaign, and more recently against the Front National - didn't play in his favour. Already in 2005, in an interview with French magazine Paris Match, he said: "One thing is certain, if Sarkozy ever comes back, I'm out." Taken literally, he declared in Le Parisien on the 13th of October 2006 that he "said that on the spot" before adding: "in fact, I think that it’s better to stay." More than a comeback, backpedal.

 

5/ Plane, money and psychological training

 

Like his father Zacharias, former professional football player, Yannick always loved football. So much so that in 1996, while the Paris Saint-Germain was preparing for the final of the Cup Winners Cup, the club's management hired the former tennis player as a mental trainer for a few days. Coincidence or not, PSG won its first and only European Cup. A good experience? "Obviously, but I will never work in football ever again, it's an world that is way too weird for me," he said in stride. Obviously, Noah came back as "psychological trainer" for the national football team of Cameroon in 2005. Why? "It was my cousin who was Minister of Sports. He decided of the staff. I was willing to come on some games and I told him: 'I come voluntarily, I pay for my plane, my hotel,'" he clarified in 2010 in Le Parisien. "We missed the qualifying for the World Cup 2006 on a missed penalty. Then, there was the African Cup of Nations. I was on tour. Then a rumour spread, saying that during the CAN, I had 125,000 € of expenses. But I wasn't there. In fact, my cousin took money on my account." Result: "He's not a minister anymore..."

 

By Victor Le Grand