When the host cities were announced for EURO 2016 there was one ground in particular that stuck out for England fans. Saint-Etienne is a home from home for the Three Lions. Inspired by British stadia, the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard is a nostalgic cauldron of noise, a terraced treasure. The home of Michael Owen's France '98 wondergoal against Argentina. The home of ecstasy. The home of devastating heartache.

Eighteen years on from that famous night in Saint-Etienne, England are back in town hoping for tears of joy rather than sorrow at full time. Stade Geoffroy-Guichard is renown in European football as a theatre of volume, and that electric atmosphere isn't something that has happened by chance. The home of AS Saint-Etienne was built brick by brick for noise, from the foundations right up to the tip of the floodlights. This stadium is raw football royalty and it was constructed to amplify and echo acoustics, making it bounce on match days. 

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Former president of the club, Roger Rocher is the man responsible of plugging that amp in and turning the volume up to the max. Rocher was a local miner who spent a lot of time in the UK in the 1950’s and that’s where he found the inspiration to build a stadium that was made on the values of the city. Four traditional steep stands, with the crowd as close as possible to the pitch, just like in England.

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An iconic stadium that opens its door to main stage once more. Having hosted the 1998 World Cup and the European Championships in 1984, tournament football is built into the roots of the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard. The terraces of domestic football may be replaced with seats for Euro '16 but that won't take anything away from the old-school feel and overall retro vibe of this arena of heritage. Merci Roger, merci.

Full story on our visit to Saint-Etienne inside SoccerBible Magazine Issue 6, available here.