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Beg to get me back, Anelka tells Santini

Paris: Former French international Nicolas Anelka has said the only way he would be enticed back to the national team was if coach Jacques Santini “got down on his knees and apologised”.

The controversial French striker has not been a feature of the national team since Santini took over from Roger Lemerre following France’s humiliating exit from the World Cup last year.

Anelka, who appears to court controversy at almost every turning point of his career, was first left out by Santini for a friendly match against Yugoslavia last November. Days later, when Santini selected him as cover for the injured Lyon forward Sidney Govou, Anelka petulantly declined.

Now, the 24-year-old Manchester City striker said there is only one way he would consider playing for Les Bleus again. “If Santini gets down on his knees in front of me and says sorry then I’ll think about it,” Anelka told the respected gossip magazine Paris-Match when asked about a possible return to the France team.

Anelka, who has scored six goals in 28 games for France, has not been considered for selection by Santini since their run-in last November and already admits he knows “there will be no Euro 2004 for me”.

And the former PSG, Arsenal, Real Madrid and Liverpool forward maintains that he has been shown no respect from the national football system. “I still maintain that they’ve shown me no respect,” said Anelka.

“The system has sickened me. My decision to close the door (on France) wasn’t a gut reaction. I don’t need the France team. Everything I’ve achieved with Manchester (City) is enough to satisfy me,” added Anelka who said he considers himself “one of the best forwards in the world”, although he said Brazilian forward Ronaldo was still the best. Anelka played 38 matches in the English Premiership last season and scored 15 goals for City who finished ninth.

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