Why the Georgian football player and coach Harry Sordia had been called „Belmondo“?

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The legendary French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo (1933-2021) was popular and loved all over the world. He entered the history of world cinema by the golden letters, into the hearts of hundreds of millions of people. It is not surprising that in many countries people, at least somehow similar in appearance to the great French actor were called “Our Belmondo.”

Jean-Paul Belmondo was especially popular among athletes – football players and boxers. In his youth, he was fond of boxing and football, and during the peak of his popularity, he became one of the initiators of the creation (in 1973) of the famous French club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). But football and work at the club took a lot of time from Belmondo in 1973-74, so it was difficult to combine acting with work at PSG and he soon left the club, although he remained a PSG fan all his life.

Knowing about his special attitude to football, many athletes and coaches in different countries especially honored the great Frenchman. One of them was the famous Georgian football player, and then coach and manager Harry Sordia (1936-2006).

He was born and raised in the city of Ochamchire. There he began to play football, at the age of 16 he became a striker of the Ochamchire club “Dinamo”, which played in the major league of the championship of Georgia.

In 1953, Harry was invited to the youth team of Georgia, in which he became the winner of the USSR youth championship. At the end of 1954, Harry was invited to the Leningrad (now Saint-Petersburg) “Admiralteets” team played in the USSR championship in those years. Having performance several games for this team, due to family circumstances, he was forced to return to Georgia: for some time he played for “Dinamo” Sokhumi in the Georgian championship, in the youth team of “Dinamo” Tbilisi as well, played for “Lokomotiv” Kutaisi in the USSR championship (class “B”) in 1957-1958.

Kutaisi “Lokomotiv” changed its name to “Torpedo” in 1959, where Harry played for almost 5 years, then again for “Dinamo” Sokhumi. In 1964, due to an injury, he was forced to end his career as a football player, from 1964 to 1981 he worked at “Torpedo” Kutaisi (the team played in the highest and first league of the USSR championship) – he was a playing coach, then one of the coaches, the head of the team. He had a unique gift to convince people-football players, coaches, veterans, officials. He was entrusted with negotiating the invitation to “Torpedo” of both young and experienced football players.

One of them was the legendary captain of Tbilisi “Dinamo” and the USSR national team Murtaz Khurtsilava the European Vice-Champion 1972 and The Bronze Medalist of the Olympic Games 1972. In mid-1975, the 33-year-old Khurtsilava, who was in excellent shape, left the team of “Dinamo”. He had invitations to play for eminent Moscow and Ukrainian clubs, but Murtaz refused, deciding that he would not play for clubs of other republics except Georgia. Murtaz intended to leave football altogether. At this time, the head of “Torpedo” Kutaisi Harry Sordia intensified.

Then the torpedoes played in the first league of the USSR and wanted to return to the highest. “Harry Sordia came to me in Tbilisi several times from Kutaisi, whom I had known for a long time. He had a special gift to convince, was an experienced specialist, a cheerful and interpretative person, especially pleased everyone with his humor. His manner of communication, his arguments that it was too early for me to leave football very much influenced me and I agreed to play “Torpedo” for one year (in the second half of 1975-early 1976, Murtaz played 47 games for “Torpedo” in the first league of the USSR)” – 78-year-old Murtaz Khurtsilava told the author of these lines.

Many football veterans talk about Harry Sordia’s great humor and artistry, which helped him reach an understanding with football players, coaches, officials, and sports fans, helped set up football players and achieve success.

Ensuing years, he worked as a head coach of several clubs that played in the Georgian championship. Since the late 1990s, he worked at the Union of Georgian Football Veterans, since 2003 he was the head of the Football Federation of the region Imereti (west Georgia), died on February 3th, 2006.

Why Harry Sordia was called “Belmondo”? The author of these lines asks the daughter Nino Sordia. She is the president of the Georgian Women’s Football Federation from 2008 to the present day and actively participates in the sports life of the country of Georgia.

“In general, my father was both a strong-willed and cheerful person, he loved to joke very much, he was artistic, he was a good psychologist, his father loved to read, loved cinema, art. Since 1980, he has been called “Belmondo” in football circles – for his external resemblance to the great French actor, for his artistry and human qualities.

Few people called him “Harry,” since 70- till his life end almost everyone called him “Belmondo.”

34-year-old Teo Gongadze the granddaughter of Harry Sordia is specialized in French cinema and culture studies, she was influenced by “Belmondo” grandfather Harry Sordia. Teo is Georgian women Football Federation national teams manager is proud that her grandfather was called “Belmondo” because of his visual and humor.

Photo Harry Sordia (photo from the archive of the H. Sordia family).

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