French football quotes of the year 2014


Marcelo Bielsa“There’s already one of ours who’s up there [Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa], and I wish him the best. Rémy, I think he deserves something else than Newcastle. I wouldn’t go there. You must get bored shitless in Newcastle.”
– Montpellier president Louis Nicollin on reports linking Rémy Cabella with a move to Newcastle United

“At Milan, they treated me like a king. People were courteous, welcoming and always willing to help. At a restaurant, in France, you sit down and not only do they make you wait for a very long time, but they treat you badly. It was disconcerting, but now I’ve adapted: if someone treats me badly, I treat them badly in return. I’m a real Parisian now.”
– Paris Saint-Germain’s Thiago Silva on the joys of life in the capital

Loïc Féry: “Thank you.”
Christian Gourcuff: “I’m not saying thank you to you [vous].”
Loïc Féry: “So we’re vous-ing each other now?”
Christian Gourcuff: “Yes, yes, we’re vous-ing each other now.”
– Terse exchange between Lorient president Loïc Féry and outgoing coach Christian Gourcuff, caught on camera by Canal+ after Lorient’s 4-1 loss at home to Lille on the season’s final day

“For him to be bad is one thing, but for him to be stupid is something else.”
– Nice captain Didier Digard hits out at referee Antony Gautier after being sent off for handball during a 1-1 draw at Saint-Étienne. He later apologised

“It’s not glasses he needs – it’s a Labrador!”
– Lyon midfielder Clément Grenier to referee Ruddy Buquet after a stormy 2-1 loss at home to Saint-Étienne

“I’m surprised by the unacceptable and immature attitude of Romao, who made vulgar remarks towards [Canal + pundit] Pierre Ménès and me because he couldn’t think of anything else to say after fouling me but insult me. I quote: ‘Go and suck that fat Pierre Ménès.’ Unacceptable.”
Bafétimbi Gomis, then with Lyon, on a dispute with Marseille midfielder Alaixys Romao

“So then Mr Gomis, about the ‘son of a whore’ and ‘tramp’ that you yelled at me on the pitch yesterday – I should tweet it, right?”
– Lorient midfielder Mathieu Coutadeur suggests Gomis is no angel himself

“The atmosphere on the pitch? The French were too arrogant, as usual.”
– Sweden Under-21 player Kiese Thelin after his side eliminated their French counterparts in an Under-21 European Championship play-off

“A coach is above all someone who works in the technical domain. And there are coaches who don’t coach, like Laurent Blanc at Paris, where it’s [Blanc’s assistant] Jean-Louis Gasset who takes care of it. I don’t like this model. A coach who doesn’t control the pitch, as far as I’m concerned, is not a coach.”
Christian Gourcuff

“I passed my coaching exams. Mr Gourcuff passed them 30 years ago. He should take them again and see that the job has evolved.”
Blanc responds


“At the start of the season, he asked me how many goals I’d scored during my loan spell at Valenciennes. I told him I’d scored two goals in 21 matches. And he replied, with his accent: ‘Pfff, and you think that’s good? Bahebeck: two goals, 21 matches. With Zlatan it’s two matches, 21 goals!”
– PSG striker Jean-Christophe Bahebeck

“There is no wrong foot.”
Zlatan Ibrahimović, when asked how it felt to score a goal with his ‘wrong’ foot – his left – in PSG’s 4-0 win at Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League

“You’re even uglier on television than in real life!”
– Ibrahimović to PSG team-mate Zoumana Camara, live on beIN Sport

“Hey @MATUIDIBlaise I saw your goal last night. Magnifique. You must have been watching Zlatan in training.”
– Ibrahimović takes the credit after PSG team-mate Blaise Matuidi scores an acrobatic volley for France in a friendly against the Netherlands

“With him, even the referees shit themselves.”
Basile Boli on Ibrahimović

“England is a very strong league, with three or four of the best teams in Europe, but, if I had played there, I would have destroyed it, like I have everywhere else. Arsenal could have happened, as everybody knows, but I would not do a trial. Who do you think regrets that more – Arsène Wenger or Zlatan?”
– Ibrahimović

“The problem is that he’s got people used to caviar. On Wednesday he only served smoked salmon.”
Gérard Houllier on Ibrahimović’s disappointing performance against Chelsea in the Champions League

“Become a coach? Impossible. Because during the match I’d slap at least two players and after the match, eight.”
– Ibrahimović


“I knew that Guingamp was a club where people didn’t talk much. It was just football, home, sleep. But at Marseille, the people have a big mouth and the journalists have a big mouth. It surprised me, at the start, the way people talk about you without knowing [you].”
Giannelli Imbula adapts to life in Marseille

“Today these players have to be punished with humiliations that are as intense as those that we’ve endured for many weeks. Without violence, stop respecting these mercenaries, these nobodies who didn’t exist before playing at OM. They feel untouchable in their OM bubble? Make them live a hell in their everyday lives. In the street, at the bakery, in restaurants, at nightclubs… Humiliate these sub-humans!”
– Even the bakery?! Marseille fan group the South Winners call on the people of the city to turn on the team following a 5-4 loss to local rivals Nice in the Coupe de France. They softened their stance in a subsequent statement

“I learnt about the sale of Lucas Mendes at the last minute, as he was leaving for Qatar. I learnt about the purchase of Doria on Monday afternoon when he was arriving for his medical. I was against his arrival. I wasn’t able to analyse him. I wasn’t able to give my opinion. The president [Vincent Labrune] had also promised that we wouldn’t sign foreign players, because OM doesn’t have the structure necessary to evaluate the qualities of a player who doesn’t play in France! No players arrived at my behest. I proposed 12 options and none of them came off. We had to recruit with urgency, even though we wanted either [Benjamin] Stambouli or [Toby] Alderweireld.”
Marcelo Bielsa on Marseille’s summer recruitment strategy

“How do you want that to happen? Do you want me to play for Marseille with a stick?”
Didier Drogba scotches suggestions he’ll end his career at the Vélodrome


“The advantage of the typical African player is that he’s not expensive, he’s generally up for the fight, and he’s powerful on the pitch. But football isn’t just that. Football is also technique, intelligence, discipline. You need everything.”
– Bordeaux coach Willy Sagnol on the ‘typical African player’

“The intelligence I wanted to talk about was tactical intelligence.”
Sagnol clears things up

“I want to buy your monkey with the square feet.”
– What former Marseille president Bernard Tapie reportedly told then Auxerre coach Guy Roux before signing Basile Boli in 1990. Roux made the claim in his autobiography. Tapie denied it and accused Roux of defamation

“France is hypocritical and cowardly. I sometimes think that, having been invaded by the Germans, we’d be run better today.”
Emmanuel Petit gets a bit carried away while discussing the reaction to Thierry Henry’s handball against Ireland in 2009

“God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Yves.”
– Former PSG centre-back Alex shares his enlightened views on homosexuality

“We remind the Minister that Sporting Club Bastia is not the Ku Klux Klan and that we shouldn’t confuse [Stade] Furiani with Holy Week in Pamplona.”
Bastia express their unhappiness with French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve after Lens’ supporters are banned from travelling to their side’s away match against the Corsican club

“Some hemispheres from Barça came to watch me play.”
– Toulouse striker Wissam Ben Yedder gets himself in a muddle (the word he was searching for was émissaires, or representatives) while discussing Barcelona’s reported interest in him on Canal+

Life and death

“If there was a test, he didn’t come into school. He’d come in the next day and the teachers would ask him: ‘Why didn’t you come in?’ And he’d say: ‘Because one of my family died.’ It was always big lies, and it was always the same person who died. He killed him 10 times, the poor guy.”
– A childhood friend of Ángel di Maria tells French TV channel TF1 about the lengths the Manchester United winger would go to in order to avoid being tested at school

“Ibrahimović and Balotelli aren’t rebels. They can’t be. We’re nothing compared to someone like [Predrag] Pašić, who stayed in Sarajevo beneath the bombardments to teach children football, or Drogba, who protests against the war in Ivory Coast. Or even [Rachid] Mekhloufi, who quit the France team to join the Algerian FLN [National Liberation Front] team.”
Eric Cantona

“We live in the city centre, we’re 600, 700 metres from the protests. So it’s not far from my home and we hear the sounds, the gunshots. Everything’s a blur and it’s starting to get a bit annoying. I can’t continue like that.”
– Dynamo Kiev midfielder Younes Belhanda on being caught up in the protests in the Ukrainian capital

“During a trip to Naples with OM last October, I thought about joining Adrien. We were on the balcony of a big hotel and I was looking down, thinking it’d be a good place to go. I felt my life hanging by a thread. Then I realised that I couldn’t abandon my family.”
– Former Marseille coach José Anigo reveals he contemplated suicide following the murder of his son, Adrien

Love and hate

“The coach shows me a lot of trust. I have to pay it back to him on the pitch. I’m lucky to have a coach like that. I have to thank him.”
Jordan Ayew pays tribute to Sochaux coach Hervé Renard, shortly before bursting into tears during a post-match interview on beIN Sport

“I’m not a saint, I’m not very cultured, and I know that, but I’m not an idiot. When I was a child, the others called me ‘Quasimodo’. It caused me huge pain. Somehow, all that built-up anger, I put it in my game.”
Franck Ribéry

“It’s unacceptable that a coach learns about player recruitment from the secretary. The sporting director, who was on holiday, didn’t reply to any of my emails or my messages. He got back to me by email: ‘You’re tiring me with your emails, I’m not at your disposal…’ All of that shows a total lack of respect and an amateurism at the club.”
Helena Costa, the first female coach to be appointed by a French professional club, explains her reasons for leaving Clermont. She was succeeded by another woman, Corinne Diacre

“If I could go back in time, I’d let him score a thousand times.”
Soner Ertek, a player for amateur side Chasselay, reflects on the challenge in a French Cup tie that was to rule Radamel Falcao out of the World Cup


“I don’t like getting spanked. There are special clubs for that. I don’t go to them.”
– Évian coach Pascal Dupraz, after a 6-2 defeat at Rennes

“We have to beat Montpellier because our buttocks are still red from the first match.”
– Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas urges his team to avenge their 5-1 thrashing by Montpellier in October 2013

Bad boys (and girls)

“Fuck france and fuck deschamps! What a shit manager.”
Anara Atanes reacts well to the news that boyfriend Samir Nasri has been left out of the France squad for the World Cup by national coach Didier Deschamps

“As he says himself, when he’s a substitute he’s not happy, and I can tell you that that is felt in the squad. It’s for these reasons that I decided not to include him in the list.”
Deschamps explains his thinking

“I will only be 29 in 2016 for the European Championship, but the French national team doesn’t make me happy. Every time I go there, there is just more trouble. I face accusations about me and my family suffers from it and I don’t want to make them suffer, so it’s better to stop it and focus on my club career.”
Nasri announces his international retirement

“[Javier] Pastore wouldn’t get a beach ball off me if we were locked in a phone box. He’s turd. Anyone who thinks he isn’t is clueless.”
Joey Barton

“I’m 21 and I play football for passion. I’ve been in the professional world for only two years. Before that, I was a kid like everyone else, who went to sleep dreaming about football. And that was one of the things that I’ve always dreamt of doing.”
– Rennes winger Paul-Georges Ntep after scoring a goal against Reims that saw him round the goalkeeper before getting on his hands and knees and heading the ball over the line

“I’ve used up all my credits. It’s like I’m playing Mario. I have one life left.”
Hatem Ben Arfa

“I don’t know if he has any talent or not. I don’t care. But he behaves like a thug, a scumbag. Wherever he goes, he creates havoc. He has no respect for his team-mates or his coaches. He fell out with the coach of Hull City, who is a monument of English football. He’s lost, body and soul.”
– Player-turned-pundit Jean-Michel Larqué thinks it may be Game Over for Ben Arfa

Everybody loves Thiago

“Hey! Monsieur Lannoy! What a disgrace, what a disgrace. He’s been hitting people all year, that fucker there. Go on, play!”
– Lyon coach Rémi Garde is caught on a touchline microphone complaining to referee Stéphane Lannoy about PSG’s Thiago Motta during the Coupe de la Ligue final. He subsequently issued an apology

“It’s a professional failing from Thiago Motta. When you join a club, the least you can do is inform yourself about its past, its honours. This shows he’s uneducated about football matters.”
– Former PSG goalkeeper Bernard Lama takes exception to Thiago Motta’s admission that he didn’t know about the club’s 1996 success in the European Cup Winners’ Cup

“On the pitch he said he’d be waiting for me afterwards. But I never thought he’d actually do it.”
Motta after being violently headbutted by Bastia striker Brandão following a match at Parc des Princes in August, which left him with a broken nose. Brandão received a six-month ban and a one-month prison sentence

“Brandão, he’s got a better start than [French sprint Christophe] Lemaitre.”
– Ajaccio’s Salim Arrache, via Twitter, on Brandão’s cowardly dash after butting Motta

And finally…

“What made me laugh the most? The first time I saw Guy Roux take a shower with us. When he arrived, I said to myself: ‘No way, he’s not going to do it!’ But yes… I didn’t believe it. It was a phenomenon. He wasn’t at all embarrassed. For me, it was like imagining my father coming over and washing himself with me. But you get used to it.”
– Former Auxerre midfielder Bonaventure Kalou on Guy Roux

“@Benzema I feel your pain right now!”
Rihanna provides Karim Benzema with support from an unlikely source following France’s 0-0 draw with Ecuador at the World Cup

“Zizou can come. I need a player like him.”
Claudio Ranieri reacts to reports Zinedine Zidane is set to replace him as Monaco coach

“When the lion’s not there, the warthog lets loose. When the lion is there, the warthog kneels.”
– Rennes striker Habib Habibou takes a cryptic swipe at his former coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck, who had accused him of being “a liar”

“I was in the middle of revising for my bac [Baccalauréat]. Among all the calls was the one from Zizou. Because I didn’t recognise him straight away and I was tired, I didn’t let him go on too long. Without really thinking about it, I asked him to call me back later. When I hung up, my brother Anthony told me I was mad!”
Raphaël Varane shows that his legendary coolness isn’t confined to the football pitch

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

Related links: French football quotes of the year 2013 | French football quotes of the year 2012 | French football quotes of the year 2011 | French football quotes of the year 2010

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