France’s No.1 player, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, dreams of winning Roland Garros some day. When he was younger, his dream was to be a football player for Marseilles. Read on for more about football from the French favourite…
What is your first football memory?
When I was a kid, in Le Mans. There was a lawn in the suburbs where my parents lived where I would play with my friends every day after school, sometimes until nightfall. Some days I’d pretend to be Franck Sauzée taking free-kicks, some days I was Chris Waddle or even Rudi Voeller, a real fox in the box. Those were the good old days.
Who was your childhood idol?
First it was Chris Waddle, then George Weah, and then Didier Drogba.
Which is your favourite team?
My heart is with Le Mans but the team that really gets me excited is Marseilles. I really like the passion that team inspires.
Which is your favourite stadium?
The Stade de France.
Who do you think will be the biggest surprise at the World Cup?
Argentina. With Maradona in charge, I’m sure there will be fireworks. I have a really good feeling about Argentina.
What about the biggest disappointment?
I’m afraid it will be South Africa. I’m very worried about them.
Who would you pay good money to see in South Africa?
How much would you pay for your favourite player’s shirt?
That depends on who gets the money. If it’s for a charity I’d be willing to put down quite a bit of money. If not, I’d pay the official price.
Which fans are the best?
Everyone was telling me about the English fans but, when I went to a few matches, I was disappointed. It was like they were crooning lullabies. The Italians know how to make some noise. Watching on the television, it looks like they get very excited. But I have to say that the French fans are pretty great too.
If you could play 90 minutes with any team, which would it be and what position?
Hmmm…In Le Mans they might give me a chance (laughs). I’m kidding… In a passionate country, like Brazil, playing for Flamengo at the Maracana in front of a capacity crowd.
Who is your favourite manager?
Not Jose Mourinho! I don’t like managers who toot their own horns. I prefer Arsène Wenger or Laurent Blanc, managers who know to be humble and put the team first.
What’s the best goal you’ve ever seen?
The one I thought was out of this world was the second one by Tutu (Lilian Thuram), in the 1998 World Cup semi-final against Croatia. He scores with his left foot, kneels down, puts his finger on his lips… and that was the goal that put France through into the final. It was totally unreal.