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The former France captain opens up on snubbing his country of birth at international level and his post-career investment.
Former France captain of Ghanaian descent Marcel Desailly has revealed playing for Ghana was not an option when he pledged his allegiance to Les Blues.
Born to Ghanaian parents in Accra, the former Chelsea star moved to France as a child, going on to feature for the country at international level.
He made his senior debut in 1993 and progressed to win the 1998 World Cup, 2000 Uefa European Championship and the 2001 and 2003 Fifa Confederation Cup tournaments with his adopted country.
“I was already in the [France] system. I got professional from 18,19 years of age, and I got my opportunity to join the French national team, so there was no choice to even consider,” Desailly told Joy FM.
Aside from his international honours, Desailly also won the Champions League with Olympique Marseille in 1993 and Milan in 1994, and the Uefa Super Cup with Chelsea in 1998.
After starring for Al Gharafa in the Qatari Stars League, he bowed out of the game, moving on to set up the Lizzy’s Sports Complex in Ghana’s Accra capital in honour of his mother.
“When I was a soccer player, I already had the idea and vision to come back to Ghana and settle and develop sports infrastructure,” said the 52-year-old.
“I knew it was a little bit poor especially in sports, so I had plans.
“I missed the chance to be the coach of the Black Stars because of this investment as well.
“I had to follow on this investment. As of now, I’m done. It’s not profitable.”
The Lizzy’s Sports Complex was so named in honour of Desailly’s mother Elizabeth.
“If you want something to last, you need to bring expertise, we were about 90 people in the sports department alone. Every year I was putting my private money back into the system,” he added.
“So, after 10 years, I’ve spent over 1.5 million every year supporting the business to cover the debt accumulated.
“Maintenance of the pitch, paying of salaries, generator, and others. That is why no one comes into those services for kids because it’s not profitable.”
Desailly has on multiple occasions been linked to Ghana’s coaching job.