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David Ginola says he nearly re...

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David Ginola says he nearly retired after USA 94 heartbreak

Richie McCormack
Richie McCormack

10:18 PM - 12 May 2020



David Ginola says the reaction to his mistake which led to France missing out on the 1994 World Cup almost led to an early retirement. 

The 53 year old is regarded as a Premier League legend following stints at clubs like Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United, but all of that almost never happened.

On November 17 1993, France welcomed Bulgaria to the Parc des Princes needing just a draw to qualify for a first World Cup finals since 1986.

Eric Cantona had given them a 31st minute lead, only for Emil Kostadinov to level for the visitors six-minutes later.

18-seconds from the end of the 90, Ginola - a second half substitute for Jean-Pierre Papin - is played the ball from a free-kick near the Bulgarian corner.

Instead of sitting on the ball and playing out time, Ginola played a cross into the middle that sailed over the head of Eric Cantona and into the possession of Emil Kremenliev.

"There was a kind of destiny" to what followed, Ginola told RMC Sport on Tuesday night.

As the clock struck 90, Emil Kostadinov blasted the ball past Bernard Lama into the net, sending Bulgaria to the United States at the expense of Les Bleus.

"In five passes, they managed to beat Alain Roche, Laurent Blanc, Vincent Guérin and Didier Deschamps," Ginola added, "They passed us in five passes to place the ball under the bar.

"If they repeated it a thousand times, I don't even know if they would be able to do it again."

Ginola would go on to play ten more times for France, but his public perception back home was never the same again.

The winger was part of the Paris Saint-Germain side that would go on to win the French title in 1994, and was named player of the year.

However, he was whistled and jeered in stadiums the length and breadth of France for that overhit cross against the future World Cup semi-finalists.

Speaking after the game, then French boss Gerard Houllier told the media, "With only 30 seconds remaining we were there but we got stabbed in the back and at the worst possible time.

"The referee still had his whistle to his mouth when Ginola won that free-kick near the corner flag, but then he goes and sends in a huge 60-metre cross instead of hanging on to the ball.

"That allowed Bulgaria to go and hit us on the counter."

Houllier's rhetoric fanned the flames of the public reaction to Ginola, something he now claims pushed him "to his wits end".

He claims Cantona and Papin also had major influence over Gerard Houllier at the time.

Ginola said he rang his father to tell him he wanted to retire, saying he found the reaction "incomprehensible".

Despite flourishing in his first Premier League season at Newcastle, Ginola was omitted from Aime Jacquet's Euro 96 squad.

He says the Bulgarian mistake "polluted" the remainder of his international career, adding he wasn't overlooked for the European Championships or Les Bleus' World Cup-winning campaign of 1998 "on sporting merits.



Read more about

David Ginola Eric Cantona France Gerard Houllier Jean Pierre Papin

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