4th June 1974 / 4th June 2024: 50 years ago, Paris returned to the top flight!

On 4th June 1974, Paris Saint-Germain were officially promoted to Division 1 after beating Valenciennes 4-2 in the second leg of their play-off at the Parc des Princes.

By playing in Ligue 1 for the 50th consecutive season in 2023–2024, Les Parisiens continued their outstanding achievement of having featured in the French top flight every year since 1974, far ahead of their closest competitors in this respect, Lyon, who came up to the first division in 1989, 15 years after the capital club.

So, what better reason is there to take a look back at 4th June 1974, when Les Rouge et Bleu officially made their return to the highest level of French football after an exceptional play-off match at the Parc des Princes?

After falling to a 2-1 defeat away to Valenciennes in the first leg, Paris had no choice but to beat the northerners in order to reach Division 1.

Ahead of the game, the capital club's sporting director/head coach, Just Fontaine, showed the players a photo of an empty Parc des Princes and explained, "You know what you need to do to fill it!"

With Paris putting out the same starting XI as they did in the first leg, 19,511 spectators turned up to the Parc to cheer on Les Rouge et Bleu, but they would have to wait until just after the half-hour mark for any entertainment. Thanks to a perfect ball from Jean-Pierre Dogliani, François M'Pelé opened the scoring in the 35th minute, but just four minutes later, after Christian Quéré had panicked on the ball in front of his own goal, Erwin Wilczek intercepted and dinked it over to Pierre Neubert, who headed in the equaliser.

Paris then had it all to do after conceding a second goal just three minutes after the restart, this time from Wilczek himself, following another mistake by the Paris backline and specifically by Jean-Louis Leonetti. The spectators and the club's senior staff alike seemed resigned to their fate at this point, despite Dogliani equalising from a Jacques Laposte assist in the 54th minute.

With Les Parisiens looking set to stay in Division 2, the match would suddenly turn on its head, as it was now Christian Copin's turn to make a mess of things, fluffing a Laposte cross and allowing Michel Marella to restore Paris's second-leg lead in the 61st minute.

The closing stages would prove to be incredible. After latching onto Leonetti's ball over the top while just about managing to keep himself onside, Dogliani won his one-v.-one with Valenciennes keeper Jean-Paul Escale thanks to a subtle dummy before sliding the ball into an empty net with 15 minutes left to play. The Paris captain had just scored the goal that would clinch his side's promotion to Division 1, despite the protestations of the VA players, who were insistent that it should be ruled out for offside.

The whole of Paris quaked in its boots until the relief of the final whistle, when the players would triumphantly hold aloft the aforementioned Fontaine, who briefly collapsed due to a minor heart attack, although no real harm was done. Paris Saint-Germain were now a first-division side again, and the man of the hour, Jean-Pierre Dogliani, let his joy out: "I'm really happy; it's amazing. We've been waiting for this for so long. It was pretty tough, but what can you do? In a game of this magnitude, you need to pay attention to everything. Now, bring on next year!"

Division 2 – Play-off second leg
Parc des Princes – 19,511 spectators
Referee: Robert Wurtz.
Goals: M’Pelé (35'), Dogliani (54', 75') and Marella (61') for Paris Saint-Germain; Neubert (39') and Wilczek (48') for Valenciennes.
PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN: Planchard – Cardiet, Quéré, Léonetti, Renaut – Laposte, Dogliani, Spiegler, Deloffre – M’Pelé, Marella. Head coach: Just Fontaine.
VALENCIENNES: Escale – Coumba, Joly, Kuskowiak, Copin – Neubert, Verstraete, Six, Wilczek – Zaremba, Jeskowiak. Head coach: Jean-Pierre Destrumelle.