French football quotes of the year 2010

The World Cup

“As I’m an optimistic person, I’m going to say that I have a 100 per cent chance [of going to the World Cup].”
– Pride comes before a fall for Patrick Vieira

“I read the letter. I don’t think the players wrote it. It was typed out on a computer and there were no spelling mistakes.”
– French Football Federation general secretary Henri Monteil lets the world know exactly what he thinks about the intellect of the average footballer after reading the statement released by the France squad explaining their training boycott

“Go on Yoann, you’ll be alone on the pitch. Everyone will see you and you’ll be a media star.”
– What Franck Ribéry allegedly (emphasis on the allegedly) told Yoann Gourcuff on the France team bus after he threatened to break the training strike

“He sullied my name without trying to find out what happened. Lilian thinks he’s the new coach, the president of the federation and the president of the [French] Republic… Walking around with books on slavery in glasses and a hat does not turn you into Malcolm X.”
Patrice Evra on Lilian Thuram, after the France 1998 stalwart called for him to be banned from the national side for life

“They’re real clowns, these people. I’m dying with laughter!”
– Nicolas Anelka pours scorn on the unprecedented 18-match international ban handed to him by the FFF


“You should see him in the changing room: he sings French rap. He’s even learnt the song the Bordeaux fans chant to wind me up: ‘Oh, Diawara, go fuck yourself/You have got no loyalty!’”
Souleymane Diawara on Lucho González’s successful integration in the Marseille changing room

“The baguette. It’s amazing how good it is, the baguette.”
– Lyon’s Argentine attacking midfielder César Delgado, when asked what he would remember most fondly from his time in France

“Steve makes me laugh with his fake Marseille accent. A black guy from Normandy with a Marseille accent – it sounds wrong to be honest!”
Guillaume Hoarau upbraids former Le Havre team-mate Steve Mandanda for his efforts to blend in at Marseille

“We don’t talk. We played one year at Arsenal without talking. There were other people who didn’t talk to him either. The collective cause was more important, though, and we got on with things.”
Samir Nasri lifts the lid on his (non-)relationship with former Arsenal team-mate William Gallas


“He’s an idiot. You don’t talk like that when someone’s died. OM’s title was not because of Robert Louis-Dreyfus’s death. To say something as stupid as that you have to be an idiot.”
– Marseille sporting director José Anigo responds to Le Mans coach Arnaud Cormier’s suggestion that Marseille received favourable refereeing decisions during the season due to the death of owner Robert Louis-Dreyfus

“Go fuck yourself, you dirty son of a whore!”
– The L’Équipe headline, quoting Nicolas Anelka’s outburst at Raymond Domenech, which marked the beginning of the end for France’s World Cup campaign

“You’re an arsehole.”
– Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas to L’Équipe journalist Vincent Duluc, who had reported that Claude Puel stood to receive a ‘golden parachute’ payment of between €7 million and €9 million if he was sacked as coach

“There were hundreds of objects on the touchline. The Lille players could quite easily have been hit as well. I could hear people shouting behind my back from the stands: ‘We’ve hit you, now we’re going to finish you off!’ … I’m having trouble sleeping. I wake up every two hours, I see the stadium again, I feel a kind of vertigo. The stadium spins around me.”
– Assistant referee Emmanuel Boisdenghien, who felt the wrath of the Lens fans during Lille’s 4-1 victory at Stade Félix-Bollaert in September

“I’ll piss on their arse-cracks. Not a nice response, eh? It’s scandalous. But when Brest were the leaders, people took the piss. Does it always have to be Marseille or Lyon that are on top?”
– Montpellier president Louis Nicollin takes umbrage at the suggestion that people might see his side’s rise to the top of Ligue 1 as proof of the league’s weakness


“I’m not going to go fishing for whales if all I’m going to catch is sardines.”
Didier Deschamps comes over all Cantona after being quizzed about Marseille’s transfer targets

“I’ll never forget February 28th. I never knew I’d be so badly welcomed. I gave so much to PSG… It affected me. It was my worst day as a footballer. Fortunately, when I got to the hotel, a young kid told me: ‘Gaby, you will always stay in my heart, even though you’ve gone.’ That did me good.”
Gabriel Heinze, after being roundly booed on his return to Paris Saint-Germain

“José and Didier spoke a fortnight ago. That allowed them to clear up any misunderstandings. They told each other what they think of each other. It’s fine. Even though the birth was a bit stressful, the baby is in good shape. He has colour in his cheeks.”
– Marseille president Jean-Claude Dassier attempts to quash rumours of discord between Anigo and Deschamps

“If I have to leave now, I’ll take with me the three titles I won last year, the memories of the fantastic fans, of a magnificent city, of the huge media interest around the club. That’s how you measure the difference between OM and the other clubs in France. All that – that passion – you really feel it when you wear the shirt. Any player who plays here can only have good memories, I think.”
Hatem Ben Arfa bids farewell to Stade Vélodrome


“Gourcuff got it wrong 100 percent at Milan. His problem here was his behaviour. He didn’t show himself to be intelligent in the way he looked after himself… When he played here, he didn’t want to make himself available to the squad. He didn’t start learning Italian straight away. He didn’t want to work on tactics. He wasn’t always on time. Lots of things happened, things it’s not possible to reveal. But he knows very well what we he did.”
Paolo Maldini

“Yoann is different. He has a different cultural background and other intellectual interests. No-one likes difference in this game… It’s a horrible injustice, all these tales. I’m outraged. For a father, there’s nothing worse than to witness that. For Maldini to talk like that, it’s like there’s some kind of conspiracy.”
– Yoann’s father, Lorient coach Christian Gourcuff, leaps to his son’s defence

“The world of football is strange, and it’s even getting unhealthier. I think we’re losing the passion and that people and the media prefer to focus on what happens around the game, not what happens on the pitch.”
– The man himself


“He’s not used to working. When you’re face to face with the person, he listens. But even attentive, receptive players, when they go out in the street they meet people who tell them: ‘You’re the best, you play for Real Madrid, you don’t need to work’. These are false friends.”
Laurent Blanc tries to understand Karim Benzema’s aversion to pulling his finger out

“I’m a defensive midfielder. I can do a job [at right-back] for my club or for France, with pleasure. But you have to know that Lassana Diarra is a midfielder and not a right-back.”
– Nobody puts Lassana Diarra in the corner

“He’s very quick, very skillful and can become a great player. I’d bring him to Real with my eyes closed.”
Zinedine Zidane goes weak at the knees for Eden Hazard

Domestic matters

“For me it was like a plane crash. There’s never just one reason. To begin with we placed more importance on the Champions League than the league. Everyone started dreaming. So, when we got knocked out by Lyon in the quarter-finals, it was a hard blow to take to our morale. After that, our tactics were based on playing with Marouane Chamakh, our goalscorer. But he’d given so much that, by the end, he couldn’t give any more. I also think that the squad was poorly managed. There were 14 of us who played over 40 matches. The substitutes didn’t get enough game time.”
Fernando attempts to explain Bordeaux’s extraordinary slump in the second half of the 2009-10 season, as the defending champions let slip a nine-point lead and eventually finish sixth in the Ligue 1 standings

“It’s the football we love. That was real French football.”
– After a wretched summer, FFF vice-president Christian Teinturier salutes the success of the French team at the Under-19 European Championship in Normandy

“Saint-Etienne played defensively; French football is like that. You don’t see the 6-0s of Arsenal and Chelsea in France. It’s the culture of defence in a homogeneous league.”
– Rennes coach Frédéric Antonetti takes exception to the inherent conservatism of Ligue 1 after Saint-Etienne grind out a 0-0 draw at the Stade de la Route de Lorient

“Once, before a match against Marseille, a mate told me: ‘Look out for Mamadou Niang.’ I said to him: ‘Mamadou who?'”
Adil Rami‘s anorak credentials leave a lot to be desired

“I left him on until the end so that he wouldn’t make a face afterwards.”
Claude Puel tires of Lisandro López’s trademark strops

“There’s not that same demand for results.”
Raymond Domenech on the joys of coaching children, after returning to the touchline at the helm of Athletic Club de Boulogne-Billancourt Under-11s

Catch up with all the latest French football news by reading La semaine en France – the bite-size Ligue 1 round-up published every Friday at Football Further.

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