We make French actor Olivier a member of the Green Army
It has been the dream summer romance, Ireland and France.
The kind of passionate fling they make movies about. Two nations under each other’s spell.
The Irish sang to their babies and beautiful girls, repaired cars they accidentally damaged, cleaned up after themselves and sang their hearts out.
And the French sang back to the Irish. And they joined in the craic. They even gave us a great big shiny medal.
Frenchman Olivier Sauton wrote an open letter (in his native language) to the Irish supporters ahead of our match with the host nation. He posted it on Facebook and his glowing account of our fans went viral.
In it, he applauds the Irish generosity, brotherhood, singing talents, sportsmanship and drinking capabilities – “Even drunk, you’re a gentleman. You’re beautiful when you drink! You sing, you laugh and I rarely see you vomit.”
Inside Olivier, it seems, there is an Irishman dying to get out: “My blood is French, but my heart, thanks to you and your comrades, is becoming Irish.”
Olivier deserves honorary Irish status – so over the weekend the Sunday World teamed up with Elverys in Dundrum, Dublin, to get him his very own official Irish football jersey.
Ahead of posting it, we sent him a picture of it via Facebook – and he’s delighted.
“I am so happy and proud to be honoured by the Irish nation. Wow! Thank you a lot, lot, lot. What beautiful people.
“I am overwhelmed by the response on Facebook. Dear Irish people, you have inspired my beautiful love letter because you are my most beautiful love, truly,” he responded last night.
Olivier Sauton’s letter to Irish supporters:
“Dear Irish supporter,
On Sunday your country will face mine in the knockout stages of Euro 2016. Either way, I’ll be happy. Because even if my blood is French, my heart is, thanks to you and your comrades, becoming Irish.
“You don’t know all the good you’re doing to our country. Before your arrival, we kept bawling out, people went on strike, they broke shops and were hitting each other.
“We spoke only of hatred, discord and the disgusting lawns of our stadiums. Since you’re here, Irish friend, we only speak of generosity, brotherhood and the good atmosphere you put in the stands. In the stands and in the streets too!
“Every day, we see you in videos in which you sing ballads for pretty French ladies, lullabies for babies, loving slogans for the police.
“You repair the car that you accidentally damaged and even pushed bank notes in the car to compensate the driver. You even clean the garbage that you leave!
“In fact, if the Irish wears green it’s because you’re an alien. Yes, a human being with such heart, it can only be an extraterrestrial, or Irish.
“You bring honour to your country, your people, your ancestors. Even drunk, you’re a gentleman. Even with your belly exceeding your shirt, you have class. Even defeated, you’re in good spirits. I love you, Irish, and I don’t think I’m wrong in telling you that France has fallen under your spell.
“It is much more than good mood what you spread, Irish brother, it is love. Love of your neighbour, stuff that had been forgotten here. Love of the beer too! You drink a lot!
“And how beautiful you are when you drink! You sing, you laugh, you fraternise and I rarely see you vomit.
“You remember in 2009, we robbed you. It took the hand of Thierry Henry (left) to go to the World Cup. But if God is not Irish, he must have family in the Irish people – divine justice – we made fools of ourselves and made the whole world laugh.
“You, you were sad but not violent, and went back home without seeking revenge. Hey, the Irishman: you are a great lord.
“Waiting for the game, I will inquire about obtaining the Celtic nationality. I am even ready to learn your f**king incomprehensible accent. I start this post on social networks like launching a bottle into the sea: I hope it will reach you.
“If a good soul can translate this, they will have my eternal gratitude.
“Good game, Irish brother. You can be proud. Because the Euros is not over, yet you’ve already won.”