Before the Qatari-backed Paris Saint-Germain became the preeminent force in French football, Ligue 1 was usually a straight fight between more provincial rivals. In the first decade of the 21st century, Olympique Lyonnais reigned.

Between 2001 and 2008, the Rhone-Alpes-based club won seven consecutive titles, having never previously bettered their past peak of finishing as runners-up to other French champions.

Their final win in this sequence was arguably their best as they clinched a domestic league and cup double, capping off a period of dominance by bringing home the Coupe de France for the first time since 1973.

In 2008 as they ended the season four points in front of Bordeaux to make it seven out of seven under their new manager Alain Perrin, Lyon scored 74 goals – more than in any of their other title-winning campaigns. Not a bad haul to go alongside the cup their coach had won the year before with Sochaux. He would only last the one season with Les Gones – or “the kids” in English – though before departing on his own volition in June 2008.

That would be a fitting nickname for a side that sought to conquer French football through spotting and developing talent, canny management of the squad and the youth academy, as well as investment in the scouting network and training facilities required to create a veritable conveyor belt of talent. Perrin was one of four Lyon managers to work that system to bring in a league title following on from Jacques Santini, Paul Le Guen and Gerard Houllier.

In 2007/08, they won the league and cup with a raft of players brought up either through their ranks or as captures from outside that were found and refined by their coaching staff. But where are they now?

Goalkeeper: Gregory Coupet

Lyon apparences: 541

Current club: Retired

Coupet made 19 league appearances in 2007/08, sharing goalkeeping duties with Remy Vercoutre after he tore the internal medial ligament in his left knee during training in August 2007.

After recovering to win his seventh Ligue 1 title, the Frenchman left to join Atletico Madrid for a season before joining Paris-Saint Germain in 2009, with whom he made 31 league appearances before his retirement in 2011.

Right back: Francois Clerc

Lyon apparences: 114

Current club: Retired

Clerc left Lyon in 2010 to join Nice whom he spent two seasons with before moving to Saint-Etienne in 2012. He finished his career with Gazelec Ajaccio in Ligue 2, retiring last season at 35.

Centre-back: Jean-Alain Boumsong

Lyon apparences: 85

Current club: Retired

Boumsong is well known on Tyneside for his short, but largely unsuccessful stint with Newcastle, making a move to Juventus in Serie B and helping the Old Lady clinch promotion in 2007 before Lyon snapped him up.

After leaving Lyon in 2010 – where he formed a formidable reputation for his defensive resolution – Boumsong moved to Panathinaikos, for whom he played until 2013, making 78 appearances in all competitions.

Centre-back: Sebastien Squillaci

Lyon apparences: 83

Current club: Retired

Another 2008 departure, Squillaci moved to Sevilla after making 50 appearances in all competitions as Lyon won two trophies.

He spent two years in Spain before joining Arsenal in 2010 but the French defender never convinced for the Gunners during his three-year stay in north London and in 2013 he returned to France. He retired in 2017 after making over 100 appearances for Bastia.

Left-back: Fabio Grosso

Lyon apparences: 75

Current club: Retired

Limited to just 22 league appearances in his second season with Lyon after helping his first club outside of Italy to a league and cup double, World Cup-winner Grosso returned to Serie A joining Juventus in 2009.

After making a good impact in his first campaign with the Old Lady, his influence on the side was restricted under Antonio Conte, and while he picked up a winner’s medal for their 2011/12 league win, he had become a fringe player frozen out by the manager. In 2013, he retired to take up a role in the club’s youth system, before embarking on a managerial career of his own; first with Juventus Primavera, then Bari, and now currently with Hellas Verona.

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Midfield: Juninho Pernambucano

Lyon apparences: 343

Current club: Retired

The creative mastermind of so many of Lyon’s titles since joining the club from Vasco da Gama in 2001, Juninho moved to Qatari side Al-Gharafa Sports Club in 2010 for a season before heading back to Brazil to play for a second stint with Vasco.

A brief sojourn to MLS saw him play for New York Red Bulls for a season in 2013 before again going back to Vasco where he finally hung up his boots that same year.

Midfield: Jeremy Toulalan

Lyon apparences: 209

Current club: Retired

The more defensively-minded Toulalan left for Malaga in 2011 to become the anchorman of a big money project to try and turn the club into the third force in Spanish football. However, after their backing fell away and the money stopped flowing, the team fell apart.

Toulalan eventually left for Monaco in 2013 to spend three years in the principality before heading to Bordeaux in the summer of 16 to play his 15th season of international football, hanging up his boots at the end of last season and bringing a close to an illustrious career.

Winger: Sidney Govou

Lyon apparences: 408

Current club: Retired

After coming up through the Lyon academy, Sidney Govou was man of the match as the club beat Paris Saint-Germain in the final of the Coupe de France, scoring the winning goal in their 1-0 decider.

He left the club in 2010 for Panathinaikos where he lasted a season before returning to France with Evian. However another year on he was back at Lyon, signing an amateur contract that limited him to playing reserve football.

He didn’t show enough to build on that season outside of the first team however and was on the move again the following summer. In 2014 he joined non-league side Monts d’Or Azergues before linking up with Miami City FC in 2015 in the fourth tier of US football. He would have one final stint with FC Limonest in his homeland before retiring in 2017.

Winger/midfield: Kim Kallstrom

Lyon apparences: 282

Current club: Retired

Now back where his career began with Djurgardens in Sweden, Kallstrom famously joined Arsenal on loan from Spartak Moscow in 2014 despite being injured, helping the Gunners to the final of the FA Cup by scoring a penalty in the shoot-out to take them through the semi-finals.

The Swedish midfielder left Lyon in 2012 for the Russian Premier League.

Striker: Fred

Lyon apparences: 122

Current club: Cruzeiro

After leaving Lyon in 2009, Fred returned to his native Brazil to join Fluminense, scoring 172 goals in 288 games in eight seasons with the club.

It was that sort of form that saw him called up to lead the line at the 2014 World Cup, but unfortunately the ungainly centre-forward became a target of criticism within Luiz Felipe Scolari’s squad. He announced his international retirement shortly after the tournament.

In 2016 he joined Brazilian Serie A team Atletico Mineiro and continues to play within the topflight of his homeland, joining Cruzeiro last summer.

Striker: Karim Benzema

Lyon apparences: 148

Current club: Real Madrid

It was fitting that their final title in their sequence of seven relied so heavily on the brilliance of their homegrown stars of the time. Benzema scored 20 Ligue 1 goals in 2007/08; 31 in all competitions. Fellow Lyon academy graduate Govou was man of the match as the club beat PSG in the final of the Coupe de France.

A Galactico signing for Real Madrid in 2009, arriving in the same summer as Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo, the Frenchman has scored 212 goals in 455 games for the Spanish giants in his 10 seasons so far.

During that time he has lifted La Liga twice, collected four Champions League winner’s medals and clinched the Copa del Rey twice, as well as winning the UEFA Super Cup on three occasions, the FIFA Club World Cup four times and the Spanish Super Cup twice. He has also reached 81 caps for France, scoring 27 goals, although his off-the-field indiscretions have curtailed his international career.

Goalkeeper: Remy Vercoutre

Lyon apparences: 112

Current club: Retired

Vercoutre made 19 Ligue 1 appearances, sharing the load with Coupet, in 2007/08.

The Frenchman stayed with Lyon until 2014 when he moved to join Caen and eventually retiring with them in 2018.

Right-back: Anthony Reveillere

Lyon apparences: 399

Current club: Retired

Clerc’s main rival for minutes at right-back in 2007/08, Reveillere left for Napoli in 2013 for a season before joining Sunderland in 2014. He retired as a player in 2015 after having represented France at the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.

Midfield: Mathieu Bodmer

Lyon apparences: 91

Current club: Amiens

A rotation player in 2007/08 following his move from Lillie where he was a key player, Bodmer stayed at Lyon until 2010.

He then joined Paris Saint-Germain, who loaned him out to Saint-Etienne in 2013 prior to selling him on to Nice. There the 34-year-old remained until signing for Ligue 1’s EA Guingamp for the rest of the season. And he is still going strong in the top-flight at 36, signing for Amiens in 2017.

Striker: Kader Keita

Lyon apparences: 72

Current club: Retired

After leaving Lyon in 2009, Kader Keita joined Galatasaray for a season in the Turkish Super League, followed by two years with Al-Sadd in Qatar, who he originally played for before his career in France. In 2011 he was a member of the team that won the AFC Champions League.

Returning to Europe, he moved to Honved in Hungary for a season before heading out east to Indonesia to join Persib Bandung in 2015.

Winger: Hatem Ben Arfa

Lyon apparences: 89

Current club: Rennes

After Benzema, the key talent within Lyon’s 2007/08 title-winning side. Ben Arfa made many of his contributions off the bench, but he was some impact sub, firing home eight goals and helping to create so many more with his tricky dribbles against tired legs courtesy of his dazzling and unpredictable ability on the ball.

The rebellious attacker moved to Marseille in 2008 for two years until Newcastle United came calling in 2010, initially signing him on loan.

At St. James Park, Ben Arfa became a cult hero, scoring elaborate and brilliant goals but after falling out with the management.

Another loan, this time to Hull City, ended in the Frenchman walking out on the Tigers who were later relegated, and he had to wait until the following season to complete a move to Nice due to Fifa regulations on the number of clubs a player can represent during a season.

Once he was able to turn out for third club in France, however, the magic came back and he was one of the stand-out players in Ligue 1 and in Europe in 2015/16, scoring 17 goals in 34 league games.

In the summer of 2016, Paris Saint-Germain came in for Ben Arfa who moved to the capital in search of silverware, but he struggled to establish himself, and has since made a resurgence with Rennes this season, netting five goals across 15 appearances.

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