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Desailly: You always remember your first time

It takes a lot to faze Marcel Desailly, but fans on the UEFA Champions League Facebook page did their best as they grilled the legendary defender on his career and this season's competition.

Marcel Desailly shares a moment with Karim Benzema
Marcel Desailly shares a moment with Karim Benzema ©Getty Images

A UEFA Champions League winner with both Marseille and AC Milan, not to mention a world and European champion with France, Marcel Desailly knows a thing or two about facing a challenge – which is why the legendary centre-back was delighted to take questions from fans on the UEFA Champions League Facebook page.

Who was the toughest striker you had to mark?

I think probably the most difficult was Ronaldo, the Brazilian one – he was very difficult to defend against. I wouldn't say tough in a physical way, but he was so fast and so good that you needed your team-mates to back you up. I think the striker I hated facing most, though, was [Filippo] Inzaghi. He would never give me the physical battle I wanted; he would always just be focusing on staying onside, right on the last defender, and that was it – playing against him was awful!

Marcel Desailly spent five years at Milan
Marcel Desailly spent five years at Milan©Getty Images

Can Milan bring back the glory days?

Yes, I think so, but it'll take at least two to three years. First of all they have to produce players from the academy who have a bit of an understanding of the history of the club, and then you have to top that off with a decent budget. You need to put in place a five-year project.

Which was the bigger thrill, winning the UEFA Champions League or the FIFA World Cup?

What a tough question! Well, you can't really say which was better, but it was a similar situation as nobody really expected that France team to win it either. You had the Germans, the Dutch, the Argentinians, the Brazilians ... all of whom were better than us. Just like with Marseille, nobody was expecting us to go all the way, so to make it happen ... it's hard to describe how good it felt.

What was it like to win the UEFA Champions League for the first time?

Well, you always remember your first time. It was a great feeling, particularly as nobody was expecting that Marseille team to win it. Many people were saying it was the worst Marseille team in the seven years [former OM president] Bernard Tapie had been involved, so for us to do it was huge.

When you were a child, which footballers inspired you?

I think my first bond with football was made in 1978 – a long time ago, I know! – during the World Cup that year in Argentina. Mario Kempes was, for me, the first player I really remember focusing on. I can also remember all the confetti, the pieces of paper flying all over from the stands. Later, another World Cup, again won by Argentina, inspired me – with Diego Maradona this time my focus. I never played against him [professionally], but I did later after he was retired.

Who will win this season's Champions League?

It's always tough, but I'd be happy to see Paris win it of course. Manchester City too, while it's also been a while since Bayern won it – they might be due a win.

This is part of a longer Q&A on the UEFA Champions League Facebook page, with fans providing the questions