|Full name||Gérard Raymond Octave Tonnel|
Sep 22, 1947
|Dead||Nov 9, 2016 (69 years old)|
Originally from the Somme region in the North of France, Gérard Tonnel started his professional playing career with RC Paris-Sedan, which was born when the two clubs merged. He stayed there for a season and a half; playing in the First Division, but only took part in ten matches. Having had some difficulties in making a breakthrough in the professional game; and frozen out because of the strong competition for places, he left the club in December 1968, and stopped playing altogether for six months. He eventually returned to action with AC Mouzon in amateur football in 1969, and had an exceptional spell there. His team was promoted in successive seasons from the Division d'Honneur to the French Second Division in just two calendar years. In the 1969/1970 season, he would score no fewer than 44 goals in Division d'Honneur, 20 goals in 22 matches in the Third Division, and 15 goals in Division 2 in the 1971/1972 season. With those impressive statistics, he caught the eye of Troyes, who were also plying their trade in the Second Division. And his success continued, scoring 31 goals in his first season, finishing the league's top scorer, and helping his team to gain promotion to the top flight. Tonnel was nicknamed the "Golden Hat", mainly down to his aerial prowess, and he continued his amazing record in the two seasons that followed in the First Division. In 1973/1974, he was fifth in the league's goalscoring charts with 21 goals, and then fourth in 1974/1975 with 17 goals to his name. During this time, he was called up to play for the French Amateur team, and even got selected for the senior national team in September 1974 against Poland, although he didn't get on during the match. In 1975; he left Troyes to sign for Strasbourg, but his productivity as a striker waned. The club, from the Alsace region in the East of France, had a disastrous season, finishing 19th in the First Division, and Tonnel's own tally was a meagre six goals for the season. In 1976, he was solicited by Stade Rennais to bolster their attack as a replacement for Pokou, who was a long-term injury absentee. Alas, he record at Rennes would be less than successful, finding the back of the net just six times in 37 matches. He was eventually released from his contract for financial reasons in January 1978. Rennes was struggling badly financially, and he would be without a club for several months, thus becoming the first French professional footballer to ever be made unemployed. He went on to sign for Reims for the 1978/1979 season, but didn't get to play in a single league game - His only action came in the French Cup ties that season. At the end of that season, he decided to end his professional playing career, joining CO Châlons in the Third Division as an amateur, becoming player/manager between 1979-1981. After that he moved to the Marne region to manage CA Germaine. After a number of years battling with Charcot's Disease, he died of a heart-attack on 9th November 2016, aged 69.