Louis Nicollin, owner of Montpellier Herault Sport Club, is renowned for being one of the more colorful characters in French football.
That personality trait was on full display Monday morning just hours removed from his club's christening as 2011-12 league champions, an honor they had sealed after a drama-filled match at the Stade Abbe-Deschamps.
Nicollin had been on the sidelines for that encounter, in which Montpellier had entered needing only a draw to win the Ligue 1 crown. They did that one better, sealing a 2-1 victory—bolstered by a John Utaka brace that vaulted them into the pantheon of French champions.
It was a validation of sorts for Nicollin, who saw his club one-up second-place finishers Paris Saint-Germain. The capital club had spent over €100 million on transfers ahead of and during the 2011-12 season; Montpellier dispensed just €2 million.
Nowhere was that economic trend more glaring than in the two clubs' top strikers. Kevin Gameiro, plucked by PSG last summer from Lorient for €11 million after finishing with the second-best Ligue 1-goal tally of 22 in 2010-11, came at a much steeper price than Olivier Giroud, the 2011-12 top scorer with 21 strikes.
Nicollin paid just €2 million for Giroud back in 2010. Then with Tours, the genuine No. 9 was considered a talent, but one who had only proven himself in Ligue 2 up to that point.
How things have changed since. Gameiro failed to hit the same highs in Paris that he had in Brittany, while Giroud supplanted him both at league- and national-team level, becoming a starter for Laurent Blanc's side in its most recent appearances.
All this bottled into the champagne that Montpellier and Nicollin likely popped following their title.
And, in perfect representation of his zany character, Nicollin made good on a bet he'd made should his team have captured the league's winners' medal.
His hair morphed from a gray-tinged black to a vivid orange and blue, the colors of his team. But Nicollin didn't look like he minded one bit, sitting in that chair, content in his knowledge that he'd finally captured the ultimate club prize in France.
Montpellier had hinted at the title in 2009-10 but had come up short in the final months. This time they made good on that promise.
As did their owner. His hair was proof enough of that.