Anelka’s legacy sealed

anelka-dieudonne3Forever dubbed the enfant terrible, it seemed Nicolas Anelka had turned a corner in the past decade.

Far from coincidentally, this character reform was kick-started as the main man at Manchester City, Fenerbahce and Bolton Wanderers.

Quite clearly, Anelka thrived off the adulation of acclaimed man managers like Kevin Keegan and Sam Allardyce.

Also, without the negative influence of his brother and agent, Claude, the Frenchman kept his head down.

After all, i n the eyes of Arsenal’s former vice-chairman, David Dein, the Anelkas were said to have been everything that was wrong with football after Anelka threatened to go on strike.

Remarkably, this was despite the fact that – following Anelka’s sale to Real Madrid in 1999 – Arsenal made a whopping £22.5 million profit on a player they poached from PSG as a 17-year-old.

The chaos of the move did little to improve Anelka’s reputation and having gone on to be suspended for 45 days by Madrid, it seemed Anelka would never fully live up to his potential..

Yet, with another chance at winning major honours – eight years on from his departure from Los Blancos – Anelka impressed at Chelsea.

The Frenchman bagged the Premier League’s golden boot, with 19 goals, in 2008-9; displayed incredible selflessness in complimenting Didier Drogba, by playing on the right wing; and won the Double in 2009-10.

Yet, ignominy was to again follow Anelka – without even addressing the origins of the well-documented Kynsna mutiny with France at the 2010 World Cup.

The Frenchman claimed he was not ready when Avram Grant elected to bring him on before the end of extra-time and his eventual, crucial penalty shootout miss in Moscow in 2008.

And, despite featuring in 14 of the first 16 games of Chelsea’s new era under André Villas-Boas in 2011-12, Anelka was surprisingly sidelined and sold by the Portuguese.

No reason was ever given by either party and with the 32-year-old departing for the riches of Shanghai Shenhua, after a transfer request, it seemed Anelka’s career at the highest level was over at just 32 years of age.

Thus, Anelka’s eventual move to West Brom, following the interlude of a three-match spell with Juventus, seemed a return to what was good about Anelka.

Despite looking typically nonplussed at his unveiling, the signs were there that life at the Hawthorns would be a hark back to Anelka’s time at Bolton and Manchester City.

As a central striker on a performance-related contact, he netted seven goals in as many games in an impressive pre-season under Steve Clarke.

Anelka’s competitive form never took off, though, and the Frenchman even considered retiring after his agent, Eric Manasse, died suddenly in August.

Ironically, too, Anelka’s most impressive performance – a brace against West Ham on Boxing Day – was overshadowed by his unforgivable quenelle gesture.

It seemed the Frenchman’s time at the Hawthorns was going to be inevitably tainted, whether it was this disgraceful celebration or the sacking of Clarke a week previously.

Now, with Anelka having been sacked by West Brom – after audaciously claiming he left on his own terms – the striker is likely to retire.

Forever trying to escape his reputation as Le Sulk and the enfant terrible,  ironically, Anelka has lived up to both.

The Author

Ciaran Kelly

Sports writer and author of José Mourinho: The Rise of the Translator, featuring exclusive interviews with key figures not synonymous with the traditional Mourinho narrative and Johan Cruyff: The Total Voetballer, an ebook which peaked in the Top 40 of Amazon's top 100 Sports Books' chart. I have also written for Britain best selling football magazine, FourFourTwo and other British publications. I am a fully qualified reporter with an NCTJ Diploma in Journalism and a Masters degree in Sports Journalism from St. Mary's University, London.

One thought on “Anelka’s legacy sealed

  1. Soccer is one of the most well known and followed sport all over the world. Good players are one of the most important part of the game. They usually give life to every match and make the game more exciting.

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