In one of his more bizarre interviews with French radio broadcaster Europe 1, Emmanuel Petit talked about his success in football and how it turned him into a “sexual object” for women.
Petit says that even almost 20 years later, people still mostly approach him to talk about his goal in the World Cup final in 1998. Manu says he doesn’t mind this, telling Europe 1: “It is better to have won the World Cup 98 than to have done the famous Knysna strike.
“On World Cup final day I really felt like I was in the right place at the right time. But I would say that life is much more important than football.”
The strike that Petit refers to was the 2010 protest against the French Football Federation’s decision to send Nicolas Anelka home, and represented a low for French football to contrast with the ultimate high of the World Cup win.
However, as Petit says, there is more to life than football, and he discovered that his footballing exploits gave him an “advantage” with the ladies: “I was literally harassed, how I reacted, I took advantage of it, I said, ‘Take advantage of it as long as the train is stopped at the dock’.
“I’m lucky enough to please the women in general and I like them too.”
He goes on to say that he was “reduced to a sexual object” at the time, but that this “did not displease him”.
Petit, now 46, played for four different clubs in his career – Monaco, Arsenal, Barcelona and Chelsea – an impressive collection of teams. Excluding his international success, his best spell probably came with the Gunners, where he won a league title, an FA Cup and two Community Shields in just three years.
In the end, he still ended up leaving for Barcelona, but even if that spelled the end for his cup honours, it seems he found other ways to enjoy himself in life.