Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka this week launched an extraordinary blast at his “racist” countrymen insisting: “I never wanted to sing the French national anthem”.
Anelka, born in Versaille but of Guadaloupe origins, is currently serving an 18-month international suspension after his infamous “son of a whore” fall-out with Raymond Domenech during their disastrous World Cup safari to South Africa.
Before Saturday’s clash with Tottenham and tomorrow's Champions League showdown at Marseille, the 31-year-old, formerly of Paris St Germain, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Fenerbahce, Liverpool and Bolton, said: "When France doesn’t win, people start talking straight away about skin colour and religion. When times get tough we find out what people really think.
"They said there was a gang of black players in the French squad at the World Cup, and we then saw the true face of France. They said Franck Ribery had hit Yoann Gourcuff. Ribery was the Muslim, and Gourcuff was the good French boy.”
Anelka won 69 French caps and scored 14 goals for his nation. But with his international career over, he raged: "I have never wanted to sing the national anthem with France. Had they insisted I'd have refused, and quit playing for them.
"The fact I grew up on a high-rise estate counted against me. I was the first player from this background to own a Ferrari, and it did people's heads in.
"People in France have a false picture of me. Everything I have achieved has been abroad. I am not 'made in France' – at home, I have had nothing but trouble."
Anelka’s comments are sure to raise a storm in France – and are unlikely to help his Chelsea team-mates, currently suffering a serious slump in form which has seen them take just five points from their last six games and drop off the top of the Premier League.