Marseille returned to the top flight in 1996 after their enforced demotion due to match fixing. Rolland Courbis as coach built a strong unit and over the next few seasons signed the likes of Fabrizio Ravanelli, Laurent Blanc, Andreas Köpke, Robert Pirès and Christophe Dugarry, culminating in a second-place finish in the French championship, behind Bordeaux and an appearance in the UEFA Cup Final in 1999, losing to Parma.
One consequence of the exclusion of English clubs from European Competition as a result of the Heysel Stadium disaster was that many of England’s top players chose to move to other leagues in order to compete at the highest level.
Chris Waddle was one of those, and the £4.5M move from Spurs was the third highest of all time.
The addition of Waddle sealed Marseille’s dominance, domestically at least, and they achieved three league titles in the following three seasons (1990-92). Waddle was a huge crowd favourite and his carefree style and trickery on the ball delighted the passionate Stade Velodrome faithful, who gave him the nickname ‘Magic Chris’.
Jean-Pierre Papin achieved his greatest success while playing for Olympique de Marseille between 1986 and 1992, where he won four French league championships in a row, a French league and cup double in 1989 and reached the final of the European Champions Cup in 1991, losing to Red Star Belgrade after a penalty shootout.
During this period, Papin was the French league's top scorer for five consecutive seasons.
He epitomised the clubs motto Droit Au But - "Straight to the Goal" - and his talent was recognised in 1991 when he won the Ballon d'or. He is the only player to win this award while playing for a French club.
In 1992, Papin joined Italian giants AC Milan for a world record fee of £10,000,000, and was the first high-profile French player to join the Italian league since Michel Platini. However, he never established himself as a regular first team member with the rossoneri mainly due to injuries and came on as a substitute in the 1993 Champions League Final where Milan lost to his former club, Marseille.
Marcel Desailly arrived in France as a four-year-old and, following his brothers lead, began his career at FC Nantes. There, as part of the famed FC Nantes youth programme, he played alongside a young Didier Deschamps, who became his closest friend.
In 1992, he moved to Olympique de Marseille, where he reunited with Deschamps, and together they won the inaugural Champions League the following year, shocking favourites Milan in the final. It earned him a transfer to the vanquished club, and the following year he again won the Cup (scoring in the final himself), being the first player to win the European Cup in consecutive seasons with different clubs.