The Rational Ref

A chat with Marcel Desailly

While deciding on his next move, former top defender keeps busy with projects such as developing his Ghana youth academy

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 July, 2013, 3:09am

True to his characteristic playing style as a dashing, dynamic and distinguished defender, Marcel Desailly whizzed into town recently, made some bold statements, and promptly zoomed out again. Rational Ref tackled him on some topical issues.

. Desailly, 44, revealed he had just completed his Uefa Pro Licence in England, meaning the former France and Chelsea captain is now eligible to coach in the top divisions in Europe. "I believe my 20 years experience as a soccer player and now having a Pro Licence - the combination of the two - will probably allow me to be a good coach," he says. "I hope I can be as successful in the coaching business as I was as a player. I'm very happy. Now I can bring my life and career to another level."

Q: Would you consider coaching a national team?

"It depends on the opportunity and the potential of the players. The capacity for me to develop my skills in a club or a national team is especially important. There might be a national team that has not won anything and if there is a huge potential to work with the players and management, then the contact [coaching capacity] you have with the people is important."

Q: What would be best? A well-known club or a small club?

"Ideally, it would be in-between. Because if you fail at a big club like Manchester United, they will straight away point the finger at you, saying you are not at the level. And if you succeed, then fine, that is [expected] because you have the players, the facilities, and the logistics to succeed. What is key in the coaching business is if you take a small club and you succeed, then it is clear you have made the difference as a coach."

Q: Who are the great coaches you have worked with?

"I had good experiences with Fabio Capello. He was my coach at AC Milan when I was at my peak. Winning the Champions League was the best moment of my career. Also, I remember very well my first coach, Jean-Claude Suaudeau. He inspired me at my first club, Nantes. I have my own coaching philosophy. But before you can settle your own style in the club, it depends on the players you have."

I'm very happy. Now I bring my life and career to another level
Marcel Desailly

Q: You've publicly stated Gareth Bale needs to leave Tottenham Hotspur. Why do you think this?

"It's not a question of money. Just compare Real Madrid with Tottenham. Look at Cristiano Ronaldo, he left Man United for Real Madrid to develop further. [Bale] should leave and he can be at the level of Ronaldo and [Lionel] Messi. He has the potential, but it depends on his desire to be the best player in the world. "

Q: What do you think about players - like Bale - who have a reputation for diving?

"Luis Suarez has been one of the examples. He's a South American guy so he's used to diving, cheating, being tricky. In England they have been able to educate foreign players to have a good civic sense, to adapt and to work hard because then you will have the possibility to succeed. In England, you still have the American dream: I mean if you work hard you can still have the opportunity to succeed."

Q: Everyone knows about AC Milan's famous medical lab. What influence did it have on your approach to health, fitness and recovery?

"Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Italy and AC Milan were really advanced on recovery and diet. That was something very special back then. When I moved from AC Milan to Chelsea in 1998, England was really quite old fashioned in terms of diet, conditioning, and not resting players the day before the game. At the Milan lab, they were into preventing injuries, with stretching, certain kinds of treatments and behaviour and attitude that have really made the difference for the club. Now the club and [Serie A] is a bit down and the Premier League has taken over but back then, Italy were already doing the perfect thing. Luckily we had Italian coaches at Chelsea [to instil this health and fitness mindset]. First Gianluca Vialli, then Claudio Ranieri who both have the right attitude. The English have realised that eating a burger the day before a game isn't the correct way. It was important for English football to take a step up. For me, I travel a lot and I keep fit getting busy [such as setting up my football academy in Ghana]. I keep all in moderation."