After six years in Italy and Germany, French playmaker Johan Micoud is looking to make UEFA Champions League headlines back at FC Girondins de Bordeaux.
After six years in Italy and Germany, playmaker Johan Micoud is looking to make UEFA Champions League headlines back at FC Girondins de Bordeaux.
Ten years ago, Micoud joined Bordeaux from AS Cannes - the club that famously produced Zinédine Zidane. He won the French title and played in two League Cup finals with Les Marine et Blanc, before going on to gain international renown during spells at Parma FC and Werder Bremen. Now 33, Micoud jumped at the chance to return to Bordeaux on a free transfer in the summer and is looking forward to starting another UEFA Champions League campaign against Galatasaray SK tomorrow, ahead of Group C ties against PSV Eindhoven and Liverpool FC.
"It will be tough but I think we really have a chance of going through," said the Cannes-born player. "We'll have the pleasure of visiting Anfield - a landmark in European football. PSV are not an easy task and a Turkish trip is never a delight but the draw gives us hope." Plenty has changed since Micoud's last spell at Bordeaux. His old Volkswagen has been traded in for a more opulent Ferrari, but the man dubbed 'Le Chef' in Bremen is still in awe of the club. "I love this side," he said. "I learned marvellous things here."
Micoud's return was the biggest transfer in France this summer. Credit for the coup goes to former Bordeaux player and coach Michel Pavon, and current boss Ricardo is delighted with his new addition. "A big player transmits his experience," he said. Micoud is just happy to be back among friends, saying: "There were so many familiar faces at the Château du Haillan [the club's HQ] and in the squad with Ulrich Ramé, Lilian Laslandes and David Jemmali, that everything went fine. I'm just getting to know the young players."
While there are some familiar faces, Micoud was aware that the club had experienced frustrating times in his absence. "It is a bit like when I first went to Bremen", he said. "They were dreaming about titles that [FC] Bayern München always won." Bremen brought the German giants crashing to earth by winning a Bundesliga-German Cup double in 2003/04, two years after Micoud's arrival. "We have the same feeling towards Olympique Lyonnais here as Bremen did with Bayern," said Micoud. "We must not let ourselves feel inferior. Bordeaux have a lot of young players who are not totally aware of their potential."
Micoud's arrival has yet to propel Bordeaux into the title race with Ramé disappointed by his team-mates' failure to exploit the playmaker's skills. "What can he do alone?" said the goalkeeper. "There must be more interplay between him and the squad to exploit his potential." The hope is that everything will magically click together in Europe, starting on Tuesday in Istanbul. "I learned in Europe that the hallmark of a great team was never to surrender," said Micoud. "I'll try and bring that spirit to Bordeaux."