Louis Saha: 'When did football surprise me? When Fergie yelled at me. I'd scored twice'

From dressing room hairdryers to Champions League tears, the former France striker bares all…

I knew I’d made it as a footballer when I lined up alongside Thierry Henry and Nicolas Anelka at the Clairefontaine academy in France. It was there that I realised I had a great chance to make it as a professional player, and having watched English football, I’d always imagined playing there one day against the best players in the world.

I was happiest when I made a baby with my girlfriend! I looked after my sister when I was young, and from then on I always wanted to be a dad. The first baby is very special and I was so happy when it happened [in 2006, three days after France lost the World Cup final].

Football broke my heart when I missed the Champions League final in 2008. For weeks before I was singing that Champions League anthem and I was so prepared for the final against Chelsea. To be injured and not participate in Moscow was a really big blow. I cried. I cried over football. At the time, I didn’t realise that I was acting like a big kid. 

Champions League 2008

Saha wasn't part of the big celebrations

My hero growing up was George Weah. I really liked his style when he was at Paris Saint-Germain and his whole game was what I wanted to accomplish as a player. I was also inspired by David Ginola, who was at PSG with Weah – those were the two players whose skills I tried to copy and adapt to my game.

I was also inspired by David Ginola, who was at PSG with Weah – those were the two players whose skills I tried to copy and adapt to my game

- Louis Saha

My one regret is the number of injuries I’ve had. I’d love to have had the possibility to improve as a player. But they did make me grow as a person. I also missed the 2006 World Cup Final [due to suspension, following a yellow card in the semis], although missing the Champions League final two years later was harder. 

My proudest moment was winning the Premier League trophy twice when I was playing for Manchester United. There’s nothing better than lifting a trophy after working so hard for it over the entire season. That’s without a doubt the best reward possible in a footballer’s career.

If I hadn’t played football I’d have worked for myself. I’d have liked to have been some kind of entrepreneur. I can’t see myself working for someone else; I’d much rather give the orders!

The day football surprised me was when Sir Alex Ferguson yelled at me at half-time after I’d scored twice against Everton and we were winning 3-0. I felt proud going back to the changing room but he was furious because I'd missed some chances and should have wrapped up the game. Everton came back to 3-3 in the second half, and only Ruud van Nistelrooy’s last-minute winner saved me that day!

If I could change one thing in football I’d give more help for referees. We ask a lot of them, as the speed of the game makes it really hard for a human to get decisions spot-on every time. Video replays are the only answer. Managers and fans will be calmed down by more consistency.

We ask a lot of referees, as the speed of the game makes it really hard for a human to get decisions spot-on every time. Video replays are the only answer

- Louis Saha

Three words that sum me up are honest, positive and smiley. Yes, I’m a smiley person! I would say I’m competitive as well, but that’s four words.

My one wish would've been to win another big trophy. I like to win. Outside of football, I’d wish to stop the poverty and all the bulls*** in the world.

The one thing I couldn’t live without would be my family and my kids. Whatever type of life you have, everyone goes through tough spots, but I try not to come home in too bad a mood if I have had a bad game. I try to always be positive and remember that my family is the main thing in my life.

Thinking Inside the Box by Louis Saha is published by Vision Sports Publishing and is available in stores and online for £14.99

Interview: Andrew Gold. This feature first appeared in the October 2012 issue of FourFourTwo magazine. Subscribe!