French football quotes of the year 2012

Samir NasriFrom AVB to Zlatan, Newcastle to Donetsk, Football Further is proud to present its third annual compilation of the year’s best French football quotes.

Cross-Channel relations

“Yesterday, I make one tackle and all everybody speak about is this tackle. Nobody speaks about the 50-yard pass that kills [Florent] Balmont and causes a red card for ‘im.”
– Replete with some elaborate eyebrow-waggling and a healthy dose of Gallic shrugging, Joey Barton‘s attempts to ingratiate himself with the Marseille media become an instant YouTube classic

“Eden Hazard’s English is catastrophic. I asked him: ‘Are you happy with your transfer?’ He said: ‘I don’t understand!'”
Romelu Lukaku on his new Chelsea team-mate

“It was the feeling I had with the coach. He said he trusted me, but he didn’t let me play. He said I was too young. He said: ‘Your time will come.’ It didn’t come. Even though he’s had a 25-year career and despite the fact he’s the boss, my objective was to play … I’m impatient. When I want something, I’ll do anything to get it.”
Paul Pogba crosses Sir Alex Ferguson, and lives to tell the tale

“The only thing I miss is in the changing room. I can’t understand all the jokes and it’s frustrating. French is more difficult than I thought. I’m trying to take my lessons very seriously. I listen to them for at least half an hour each day. The other day I watched a film in French, with English subtitles. It was Ne le dis à personne [‘Tell No One’], which was a great film. I’m going to do it again.”
Joe Cole may have left Lille with a sub-GCSE level of French, but he is now a leading authority on the films of Guillaume Canet

“I could become a doctor!”
Abou Diaby tries to put a positive spin on all the medical vocabulary he has acquired during his time in and out of the Arsenal treatment room

Euro 2012

“I accept that you can ask questions about his sporting performances … But when I hear that he could be dangerous for the concept of the group, I feel like we’re trying to bring a wolf into the sheep pen. He’s been a part of the group since the start. He dropped out due to injury and then loss of form. Don’t make him out to be a wolf, because he isn’t one.”
Laurent Blanc tells the media not to cry wolf after handing Yoann Gourcuff a place in his preliminary squad

“Shut your face! Shut your face!”
Samir Nasri celebrates his goal in the opening game with England by thanking the gentlemen of the French press for their support

“There was a bit of a slanging match in the changing room.”
Olivier Giroud lets the cat out of the bag about the row that erupted after France’s shock 2-0 loss to Sweden

“Go fuck yourself! Go fuck your mother, you son of a bitch! There, now you can write that I’m badly brought up.”
– Such a nice boy, that Samir Nasri – lashing out at a journalist following Les Bleus‘ quarter-final elimination by Spain

“We’ve told them to be vigilant and not to say anything that could hurt the group.”
– French Football Federation press officer Philippe Tournon, prior to the tournament, on the instructions given to France’s players about how to handle the media

Zlatan

“It’s true that I don’t know much about the players in Ligue 1 but for sure, they know who I am.”
– His feet have only just touched French soil, but Zlatan Ibrahimović is quick to make new friends

“I don’t like his ponytail. I have two of his shirts in my collection – one from Inter and one from Milan. Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi, OK, but he’s never impressed me.”
– Montpellier president Louis Nicollin proves that not everyone is rolling out the welcome mat

“I’m not in pre-retirement. What’s more, I’m launching a challenge to Zlatan Ibrahimović – I’ll score more goals than him between now and the end of the season.”
Adrian Mutu lays down the gauntlet after joining Ajaccio from Cesena. The score after 18 games: Zlatan 17-3 Mutu

“Scoring four goals… I never did that.”
– Even Zinedine Zidane is dumbstruck by Zlatan’s quadruple against England

Liberté, égalité, fraternité

“It goes in one ear and comes out the other.”
André-Villas Boas tires of France coach Didier Deschamps’ complaints about Hugo Lloris’ second-choice status at Tottenham (Deschamps retorted: “I have two ears as well. What he says has the same effect on me.”)

“He should have assumed his responsibilities!”
Younes Belhanda has a pop at Olivier Giroud for wimping out of penalty-taking duties in the 2-2 draw with Evian that almost cost Montpellier the title

“When you see them in the street, don’t hesitate to tell them. You can put the pressure on them!”
– Auxerre president Gérard Bourgoin encourages the club’s fans to get on the players’ backs as they slip towards relegation from Ligue 1. His words are taken a little too literally, with a group of Auxerre supporters attacking the home dug-out during a subsequent 3-1 loss to Nancy

“Who is Aulas to judge? What does Aulas do? I don’t really understand anymore. Does he work for the league’s disciplinary committee?”
– Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo takes exception after Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas accuses Ibrahimović of deliberately standing on OL defender Dejan Lovren’s head

“It would be the death of French football.”
– League president Frédéric Thiriez warmly welcomes new French president François Hollande’s proposal to introduce a 75 percent tax on annual earnings over €1 million

“It’s true that at the end of the match, I made a gesture that was slightly out of place. It happened so naturally that I couldn’t stop myself.”
– Montpellier coach René Girard explains himself after being caught on camera giving Schalke coach Huub Stevens the finger at the end of a Champions League match in October

Les tweets

“I’ve very well with the return, thank you to everyone for the wishes.” [“J’ai très bien avec la reprise, merci à tous pour les voeux.“]
Javier Pastore‘s first tweet in French leaves a bit to be desired

“Clarification: I said dirty arsehole, and not what he thinks he heard.”
Aurélien Chedjou responds to an accusation from Ajaccio’s Johan Cavalli that the Lille defender called him ‘a dirty Corsican’

“Big thought for the families of the Toulouse shooting!! #incomprehensible #whereistheworldgoing #everyoneismad #bringbackdeathpenaltyandelectricchair
– A flavour of the Deep South from André-Pierre Gignac, in a tweet about the Toulouse and Montauban shootings that was subsequently deleted

The City of Lights

“Sometimes, an agent will ‘leak’ that PSG are supposedly interested in his player, just to earn him a more lucrative contract at a Russian club, for example. The best is when people actually call us. The agent says: ‘Leo, how are you?’ I reply: ‘Fine, and you?’ We exchange some small talk and, at the end, the agent will say that he’s spoken to PSG. He’s not talked about anything, but he can always tell people that he’s spoken to PSG.”
Leonardo on the joys of being everyone’s favourite stalking horse

“We all need to be mindful that at PSG now, a draw is the same as a defeat.”
Nenê faces up to the changing realities of life at Parc des Princes

“No-one says it, but Paris Saint-Germain are an Italian club who play in France. I’ve only had one experience of this very Italian dug-out, last season. At 0-0, they were very angry with the referee, Mr Chapron, at half-time. There’s a big difference between the personalities you see on television, who all look very nice, and what I’ve seen in the corridors. I’ve seen some real Italians!”
– Rennes coach Frédéric Antonetti does his best to resist the charms of Carlo Ancelotti and co

“I’ve played one match with [Mamadou] Sakho, two with Alex. And I have to admit that, even if I felt good with both of them, I was more calm alongside the one with more experience – Alex.”
– All hell breaks loose after this seemingly anodyne confession from record signing Thiago Silva, who later apologises to Sakho

“Yes, we’re in crisis – I have no problem saying that.”
Carlo Ancelotti jumps the gun after PSG lose at home to Rennes, only to see his side knocked out of the Coupe de la Ligue by Saint-Etienne and then beaten 2-1 at Nice

“At Paris, I have everyone’s trust, from the president to the coach, but something isn’t working. The media are hostile, particularly towards foreigners. They constantly put the blame on us and protect their compatriots. In short, the French media support the French players.”
Javier Pastore‘s transformation into PSG’s answer to Manchester City-era Robinho continues apace

And finally…

“Hello, my name is Catherine Deneuve.”
Claudio Ranieri, when asked whether he could say anything in French during his introductory press conference as Monaco coach

“I’ve been at Bayern for six years. It’s always good here, I’m happy, and I have fun. For me, it’s more important than the national team.”
Franck Ribéry keeps his PR people on their toes

“It’s true, my father never told me he loved me. There’s been a lack of openness in my life … [My mother] showed me lots of love, but it’s not the same as the love of a father … I’ve been alone since I was very young, since I left my parents’ house [at the age of 12]. But I was lucky to have [advisor] Michel at my sides. He listens to my problems without ever judging me. With my loved ones and my family it was too complicated. They never understood what I was saying. They didn’t have the psychological dimension to do it.”
Hatem Ben Arfa bares his soul

“I have his number, but I don’t call him. To say what? ‘Hi, how’s it going?’ Can you imagine? He’s my idol. It’s intimidating.”
– PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu‘s bromance with Gianluigi Buffon isn’t going strictly to plan

“Spain’s play is like love without the sex. It lacks a bit of spice.”
Bixente Lizarazu shares his thoughts on tiki-taka as only a Frenchman can

Related links: French football quotes of the year 2011 | French football quotes of the year 2010

This piece was cross-posted on the Guardian Sport Network and can also be read here.

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