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Petit calls it a day

Paris: World Cup-winning midfielder Emmanuel Petit announced the end of his international career on Monday, blaming France coach Jacques Santini for a “lack of frankness”.

“It was not an easy decision to take. But I made up my mind and this is now irrevocable,” the 32-year-old Chelsea player was quoted as saying by the sports daily L’Equipe.

“I feel great physically and I’m certainly back to my best but I don’t think the French squad is led by the right man. He (Santini) is lacking frankness,” said Petit, who helped Arsenal win the Premier League and FA Cup double in 1998.

Less than two months later, Petit scored the third goal in France’s 3-0 defeat of Brazil in the 1998 World Cup final in Paris. He also played in the French team that won the 2000 European championship.

Since Santini was appointed last year after the debacle of the 2002 World Cup campaign which ended in first round exit, Petit was only considered as a replacement for his former Arsenal teammate Patrick Vieira and new Chelsea colleague Claude Makelele.

Petit, who won 63 international caps, last played for France in the 2-0 defeat to the Czech Republic in a friendly in Paris in February.

He underwent surgery for a recurrent groin injury during the close season and missed France’s triumphant campaign in the Confederations Cup in June.

Despite playing for Chelsea in their Champions League’s third qualifying round tie in August, Santini ruled Petit out of France’s Euro 2004 qualifiers against Cyprus and Slovenia this month.

Petit said he still had the will to play for France but his relations with Santini were far from good. “I think that I still deserve to play for France, but every time I talked about this with the coach, I never had the feeling he had a fair stance. (Reuters)

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