The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lack of respect pains Anelka

Paris: France striker Nicolas Anelka, who refused a call-up for Wednesday’s friendly match against Yugoslavia, said on Friday that he had been treated in an offhand and disrespectful manner.

Anelka, who has not played for France since April, was selected last Sunday as a replacement for Olympique Lyon’s injured Sidney Govou.

But the 23-year-old Manchester City striker snubbed the call-up and did not turn up at France’s training camp in Clairefontaine. France won the match in Paris 3-0.

“They gave me a phone call on Sunday afternoon to ask me to come,” Anelka said in an interview with France Football magazine.

“It has been done in an offhand manner. It showed a lack of respect to me and to my club which had not been informed. It was the last straw,” said Anelka, who has 28 national caps.

“I have always been proud and happy to wear France’s colours. I have always been respectful of the team. But I need people to prove they really want me to play.

“When you are the sixth or the seventh name on the coach’s list, I don’t think it’s offending to turn down a call-up.

French coach Jacques Santini said he was disappointed by Anelka’s decision and could not understand the player’s motives.

But Anelka claimed the French coach’s standpoint was inconsistent.

“What Santini says is just nonsense. It’s inconsistent. They were waiting for me to score goals. It’s what I’m doing at the moment and they don’t want me,” he said.

Since taking over from Roger Lemerre in July, Santini has been reluctant to pick the former Paris St Germain player saying Anelka first had to return to his best.

The French football federation asked for Anelka to be given a two-match suspension for refusing the call-up, but England’s Football Association rejected the request on Wednesday.

Asked if there was any chance of Anelka receiving another national call-up, Santini said: “If the match was to be played tomorrow or even the day after tomorrow I would say the chances would be very slim.

“I talked about it with the (other) players and I have the feeling some of them didn’t really understand (Anelka’s decision). It was sensible behaviour on their part.”

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