With never before seen photographs and moments from the Paris Saint-Germain team, Assouline has published a new photography book on the team by photographer Julien Scussel with a foreword by Pelé and with text by David Foenkinos.
We catch up with Julien Scussel for an exclusive interview on KHAMSA.
Tell us about your connection to the club—when and how did you get connected with PSG and embark on your six-year journey with them?
It came from a series of meetings. I first met journalist Anne-Laure Bonnet at a Globe Soccer event in Dubai in December 2014; she introduced me to BeIN Sport, and then to the PSG management team.
What has the atmosphere and energy been around PSG’s players for the past six years?
It’s exciting to follow a team made of players as talented as the ones who are playing for PSG. As a photographer, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity—even if my job is to blend in as much as possible so that I don’t affect the reality of what I capture. In moments of joy, the excitement is magnetic and shared with everyone. During more challenging times, the energy shifts and it becomes necessary to proceed with discretion.
Throughout your years of documentation, did you notice a difference between how people perceive soccer players and how they really are?
Absolutely, there is a huge difference. Football players are seen as celebrities; they seem distant, untouchable, and dehumanized. This book offers readers a fascinating—and sometimes intimate—look into the players’ daily life.
When you’re up close with a team like PSG, can you tell what separates the greats from the rest?
In football, as in any other discipline, I shoot everyone with the same devotion, kindness, and always with a desire to enhance the subject and their surroundings—no matter their popularity. There are some differences between players of course; some PSG players are real legends, but I’ll leave that to the experts.
Do you have a favorite photograph that has an exciting story or funny moment behind it?
All the photos from the PSG-Dortmund after-game on February 18, 2020. After the club’s victory at the Parc des Princes, the players went to greet the supporters waiting outside the stadium, which was closed because of Covid. The connection between the team and the supporters was powerful. There were smoke bombs everywhere and the scene was just surreal. Everything was magical!
Do you remember a moment you witnessed and wished to document but couldn’t do so?
Yes, there was a one-of-a-kind moment at a friendly game in Saudi Arabia in January 2023. Before it started, Cristiano Ronaldo came to greet Neymar Jr., Leo Messi and Kylian Mbappé in a crowded staircase. I watched the scene but couldn’t capture the moment from where I stood.
What were your favorite parts of documenting PSG and its members’ intimate and grand moments?
The welcoming of Neymar and Messi to the team have been incredible, almost surreal. Also, the qualification for the Champions League semi-finals against Leipzig, in Lisbon, on August 18, 2020. It was madness in the locker room!
One piece of advice you would give to younger sports photographers?
To pursue their dreams until the end. Nothing is impossible. To stand back up after each failure and overcome obstacles—photography is a very challenging job. To live their passion with humility and demand. Never choose the easiest way.
Paris Saint-Germain is available online on Assouline.com