Mathieu Valbuena plays the villain on Marseille return

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Mathieu Valbuena is one of the most well-regarded and decorated Marseille players in recent times.

The diminutive playmaker spent eight happy and successful years with the club where he won a Ligue 1 title and three Coupe de France trophies. He was a fans' favourite and a club icon.

Last summer Marseille sold their prized asset to Dynamo Moscow, with the emergence of Dimitri Payet and Florian Thauvin supposedly key factors in the decision to let him go.


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The move greatly angered the club's loyal fans. Valbuena departed Marseille a hero - illustrated in their desire to retire his number 28 shirt in honour of his service to the club. 

On Sunday, the little French international returned to the Stade Velodrome, however, this time he was playing for the opposition side, Lyon. Valbuena received an aggressive reception from fans and players alike. 

Hostile from the start

Before the game had even kicked off the Marseille faithful were screaming hostile chants towards their former player and kick-off was delayed for 20 minutes as a section of the ultras hoisted up an effigy of the Lyon man hanging. It was a riotous atmosphere aimed at one man.

Throughout the game, the home fans continued to hurl abuse at Valbuena who was even the target of several bottles and coins which were thrown from the terraces.

The Marseille players even gave him some rough treatment with a number of heavy tackles, particularly from Lassana Diarra and ex-teammate Nicolas N'Koulou. 

Dictating matters on the pitch

As it was, Valbuena had a good game for his new employers, dictating the flow and speed of their play as he did for so long at Marseille. The game ended 1-1 as Marseille fought back after losing their winger Romain Alessandrini who was sent off.

The main talking point of the game was the return of Valbuena, however. A player once adored by the home fans was subject to some shocking behaviour by the very people who used to sing his name.

The French Football Association will surely have to examine the events and punish the minority of fans behind the effigy.

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