Tue. Dec 1st, 2020

Man Utd


Bolton legend Djorkaeff on turning down Man United and Liverpool for Wanderers

3 min read

Bolton and France legend Youri Djorkaeff has explained why he chose to sign for Wanderers ahead of both Manchester United and Liverpool.

The attacker played more than 80 times for Wanderers and scored 21 goals after joining from German side Kaiserslautern in 2002.

He spent two-and-a-half seasons at the Reebok Stadium before leaving for rivals Blackburn Rovers in 2004, before calling time on his playing career in 2006 after a spell in the MLS.

He was a member of the 2004 League Cup runners-up squad which included the likes of fellow international stars Ivan Campo, Jay-Jay Okocha, and Stelios Giannakopoulos, mixed with homegrown players Nicky Hunt, Kevin Davies and Kevin Nolan.

And the World Cup winner, now aged 52, has explained how his move from the Bundesliga to the Premier League came to pass.

In an interview with the Guardian, the Frenchman revealed he had talks with Bolton, Liverpool and Manchester United when he was thinking of leaving Germany.

But after conversations with Gerard Houllier and Sir Alex Ferguson, neither of whom could guarantee him regular playing time ahead of the 2002 World Cup, he chose to make the move to Wanderers and help the Trotters avoid relegation.

And he explained how a meal with then Wanderers boss Sam Allardyce helped to seal the deal for him.

He said: “I was talking to Liverpool, Manchester United and Bolton all at the same time. I spoke to Gérard Houllier, who was a great friend, but he said I cannot promise you to be playing all the time.

“We were approaching the 2002 World Cup and I spoke to Roger Lemerre, the French national coach, who told me I needed to be playing to be considered.

“It was the same with Sir Alex. So, I thought: ‘I’ll go to Bolton for the last 12 games.’

“I didn’t know what to expect but I was in love with England, in love with its s****y weather, the people, the fans.

“I had some difficulty with my coach at Kaiserslautern and I had dinner with Sam Allardyce in Germany and we talked about anything and everything.

“He told me about the situation at the club and how they were near relegation.

“I saw this tough guy and his passion for this club and their fans and it got to me.”

He added: “I thought like a chevalier: let’s conquer England, let’s cross Le Manche.

“When I had been playing, my attitude to England was the same as all French people; it was hate-like-hate-like.

“But I was crazy about Liverpool and remember cheering them on when they were playing St Étienne in 1977 in the European Cup.

“All these guys with their crazy hair and those red shirts. I bought lots of Liverpool shirts and hats all the time – not wearing them, just collecting. I was fascinated by the clubs and the fans.”

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