Interviews

The big interview: William Gallas – "I never said I'd score an own goal on purpose. How can you say that?!"

William Gallas
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I liked all three, but maybe Chelsea was the most special time for me. It was my first club abroad and I had a great time there, winning a few trophies as well. And it was there that I first started my international career as well. When you are playing for a big club you expect to lift trophies. When I won the Premier League with Chelsea I felt like the King of England [Laughs]. You want to keep experiencing that joy again and again.

Did you ever consider joining West Ham so that you could have played for all of the major London clubs?
Arthur Griffiths, via Twitter

I think my agent actually did talk with them, but I am not 100 per cent sure. What I clearly recall, though, is that I had a meeting with Crystal Palace in the summer of 2013. Ian Holloway was the manager at the time and we met at the training ground to discuss a deal, but it didn’t come off in the end. During the same summer, I tried to go back to Marseille, to offer them my experience, but they didn’t offer me a deal despite me saying that I would halve my salary. I also spoke to Claudio Ranieri, who was the manager of Monaco. He seemed to be happy to sign me but later explained that the board had ruled it out. In the end I signed for Perth Glory in Australia.

How would you describe your first season in Australia with Perth Glory? I seem to remember one particularly bad moment that you had in a match with the Western Sydney Wanderers…
Roger Sadler, via Facebook

That was one of the biggest mistakes in my whole career! I tried to kick the ball, I missed it with my right foot, but then accidentally kicked it with my left. It was embarrassing [Laughs]. My son will always ask me, ‘Dad, what is this?!’ And I have to laugh about it. But yeah, it can happen. It happened only once in my career. Other than that moment, though, my time there was a fantastic experience. The culture was amazing, I really liked the relaxed atmosphere.

Would you compare N’Golo Kante to Claude Makelele? Can he get to the same level? Or is he already there?
EddieazzarCFC, via Twitter

They are a bit similar. In this new 3-4-3 system that Chelsea are playing, Kante can get further forward than Makelele ever did, but he will still run everywhere! He’s not too far off the level of Claude. He will eventually get there with age, if he has more experience. How can he improve? Perhaps with his positioning.

COUNTRY

  • 2002-10 France (84 caps, 5 goals)

Did you know that Thierry Henry had handled the ball to set up your goal against Ireland and send France to the 2010 World Cup? Did you care? And did Thierry say anything after?
Shane Beirne, via Facebook

I didn’t see it, because there were a lot of players in front of me. I just saw the ball, which came in my direction, and I tried to get my head onto it, although I scored with my shoulder. When I got back inside the dressing room, I heard that Thierry Henry had handled the ball. He didn't comment on it further, and personally I didn’t feel ashamed about it. I don’t think Ireland would’ve been had it happened the other way around. A few months before the game, Ireland had been awarded a very soft penalty which helped them get a goal [during a match against Georgia in February 2009]. And another example would be Luis Suarez – do you think that he felt ashamed when he did that handball against Ghana in the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals? That was on purpose.

What went wrong for France at the 2010 World Cup? What did you think of Raymond Domenech?
Yannick Borde, via Facebook

That tournament still hurts us. The relationship between the coach and that team was not very good. It was a building up of tensions, and then it exploded when Nicolas Anelka was sent home and the squad went on strike. It was a really tough time for everyone involved in French football.

How are you finding being a pundit for French television? Is that what you’ll do for the rest of your working life, or do you think you might want to become a manager in the future?
Luc Gagnon, via Twitter

I don’t really want to be a manager, but maybe at some stage I would like to be a defensive coach. When young players are brought into the first team, they will often still have to improve elements of their game. But some managers don't have the time to tell them about specific things they need to do to defend better.

When I watch a match I sometimes see defenders who just don’t know how to defend properly. I’m not sure that they get taught the right way when they are young. It would be nice to do that. I’m getting more used to the punditry now – I like it. I’m always trying to come up with constructive criticism. I’ll indicate how a player can do something a little differently, but naturally I’m a bit shy.

This feature originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of FourFourTwo. Subscribe!

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