So farewell, William Gallas. Thanks for sharing your maverick talent with us, and most of all, for bringing your distinctively French passive-aggressive attitude across the English Channel.
The 37-year-old Perth Glory defender told L’Equipe that he’s retiring after a career that began in his native land with Caen in 1995, progressed chez Marseille and – unusually – encompassed cross-London spells at the capital’s biggest clubs. From 2001 to 2013, he went from Chelsea to Arsenal to Tottenham.
An Arsenal captain joining Tottenham is not the move of a man who wants a quiet life, but the beauty of Gallas is that he just didn’t seem to give a crap about what people thought.
After one of the most traumatic games in Arsenal’s recent history — the 2008 road draw with Birmingham City (2-2) that saw Eduardo suffer a horrific broken leg before stoppage-time penalty essentially derailed the team’s title chances — Gallas, then captain, infamously tried to storm off the field then staged a sit-down protest on the pitch.
Then, in November that year, Arsène Wenger stripped Gallas of the captaincy after he gave an interview suggesting his teammates lacked bravery. This came a month after he was pictured driving away from a nightclub with a cigarette hanging from his mouth, looking like some sort of lounge lizard.
A year, later he scored the crucial goal that put France into the 2010 World Cup at Ireland’s expense – the goal made possible by Thierry Henry’s NBA maneuver in the build-up.
Just before he joined Arsenal, back in the summer of 2006, Gallas wanted to leave Chelsea. The club – the club! – issued a statement claiming he not only refused to play in the opening game of the season but threatened to score an own goal or get a red carded if José Mourinho picked him.
Again: the club said this! “His claims he wanted a new challenge were just a smokescreen to cover up the fact he was hawking himself to the highest bidder,” the very long, very pissed-off Chelsea statement added.
Gallas strongly refuted the allegations. Still, it was the kind of bizarre drama that seemed to fit his personality. He was a player so histrionic that a highlights video was posted to YouTube with a Christina Aguilera song as its soundtrack.
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