Oct 7, 2012 at 8pm UK at ​Stade Velodrome
PSGParis Saint-Germain
Gignac (17', 32')
Abdullah (77')
FT(HT: 2-2)
Ibrahimovic (23', 25')
Verratti (40'), Silva (55')

Interview: Former Marseille winger Chris Waddle

Interview: Chris Waddle
© PA Photos
Sports Mole catches up with Chris Waddle to discuss his time in France, as well as this weekend's clash between former club Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain.

Chris Waddle left quite an impression on Marseille supporters during his three seasons with the club up until 1992.

The winger was affectionately nicknamed 'Magic Chris' by the Marseille faithful for the part that he played in a squad that won three French League titles on the bounce.

With his former club due to take on Paris Saint-Germain this Sunday, we caught up with the ESPN analyst to talk about his time with Les Phoceens, Joey Barton, Eric Cantona and a certain goal that he scored against the Parisians that is still talked about in Marseille today.

How would define your time with Marseille? You won three league titles after all...
"I always describe it as being on Fantasy Island. The way that they played, the role that I was given, the team structure, the players that they had - we just had an unbelievable team. The fans were second to none, fanatical. It's one team, one town. Within a couple of hours everybody is Marseille fans. Around the country when we used to play away we were like how people say jokes about Manchester United supporters from Plymouth. We had fans all over the country because they loved the way that we played. The entertainment value they got was massive. It took me a while to settle but once I'd got a house rented and the family had moved in, it was great.The three years just went unbelievable. I could have won a few more trophies but football-wise, fantastic."

What was it like playing with players such as Jean Pierre Papin? Also, is it true you had a rather fiery president?
"The team spirit was good and the mentality of the players was strong. We had a strong chairman in Bernard Tapie, who if you lost, he was ruthless! I liked him. What he said he said. If you argued with him, he liked that but you always knew who was boss. I had a few run-ins with him but overall I thought he was great as a bloke. You've got to think that we used to take our own kit home and wash it. In England it is all done for you and hung up on a peg in the morning. We used to take boots, shin pads and two sets of training kit home until Franz Beckenbauer came in 1991. He introduced the kit system.

"The changing rooms were nothing special and the Velodrome was run down but we just had this amazing team support wherever we went. We were a bit like the Harlem Globetrotters - everybody wanted a piece of us. I think I got about 60 or 70 parking tickets and never paid for one! They used to tell me to sign and when I asked where to send it, they'd say 'no, no, no give it back' because they wanted it as a souvenir. In restaurants we used to get a lot of food and drink free. It was red carpet wherever you went, but they'd only look after you if you did it on the football pitch. It was a great club to play for."

There's a goal I'd like to talk about that you scored against Paris Saint-Germain where you back-heeled the ball into the net. That was quite early on in your stint with Marseille. Did that help you to settle in?
"I'd got there and I was in a hotel. I hadn't done any pre-season and within days I was playing at Lyon. I'd barely done any training and I wasn't fit. They were trying to train me during the day fitness-wise and it was like 90 degrees! I nearly fainted on a couple of occasions! They were trying to put a pre-season in me in the space of five days. I was waiting for a house to be built that was months behind schedule. I had a one-year-old daughter at the time. We got in the house after about three weeks and I said on the Monday that we moved in 'this is it, it starts from now. If it doesn't work we'll go home.'

"We played Paris on the Friday, it was on Canal+. I beat the offside trap, lifted it over the goalie and back-heeled it into the net. From there it just took off. There was a lot of questions prior to that. Why have we paid so much money for him? He's not done this or that. I was having problems communicating, I wasn't fit and was living in a hotel - all things people don't see. The media was digging me out because of the transfer fee. From that Friday on it just literally took off."

What actually made you decide to flick the ball into the net like that? It was a bit risky wasn't it?
"You don't know if you're offside or not because I was going in as they were coming out. I was well onside though. As I chested it, the goalie went to get it so I flicked over him. If you look at the back-heel, I actually cock it up a bit! I was over the moon. I think I jumped the advertising boards! Looking back it was the day that I arrived."

Talking of PSG, they travel to Marseille on Sunday. It's one of the biggest matches in France, isn't it?
"I didn't realise the rivalry is just unbelievable. It's like Man United and Liverpool. They hate each other with a passion. Marseille think they should be the capital and not Paris. They've always been big, bitter rivals. When I was there Paris were about ninth or tenth in the league and we used to batter them all the time. Tapie was a Parisian and he wanted to win at the Parc des Princes, which we did in style. He loved to gloat. Obviously it's a bit different now because of the money and they've got some wonderful players like Ibrahimovic and Pastore."

What do you make of all the players that PSG have acquired? Can Marseille compete with them for the big prizes still?
"They are doing what Marseille did in the early 1990s. Lyon took it on from there and they had about eight or nine years of success. Paris have got it on another level now. They're probably like Man City now. Is it good? I think for the French it's hard to compete. In England one or two can, but in France it is really hard to compete at that level. I don't think anybody can get near them financially at the minute. They lost the league to Montpellier, who are struggling this year. If Ancelotti doesn't do well this year I think he will be under severe pressure. They're not going to stand around - he's got to win the league. Marseille have had a great start but I would be surprised if they can sustain it and Paris don't win it. You've got to say, Paris are the favourites."

It's a match that Joey Barton cannot play in because of his suspension. What did you make of his switch to Marseille?
"I think he'll learn a lot. It will be hard for him though. He's not a player that is going to set the stadium alight. There are a lot of Joey Bartons in France who can pass the ball and work hard. Joey's not an entertainer or a creative player. He's a tidy player. The fans are not going to go 'wow'. For him to get in the side is going to be hard enough. It's a strange move but if the football takes off for him he'll love it. It's a great place to play football. The Velodrome is a cracking stadium and so is the atmosphere. When Marseille bring players in they usually sign a Brazilian defender or an entertaining dribbler. To bring in just a normal midfield player is a strange thing."

Another controversial figure in both France and England is Eric Cantona. You played in the same side as him. How did you find him? Did you ever have any issues?
"Eric was bigger in England than he was in France, no doubt about that. I played with Eric for one season but he couldn't get in the team. He started in the team, got injured, and when he returned he couldn't get in because there was me, Papin and Pele. Eric's obviously not one to sit around and said that he wanted to leave. I think Nimes signed him for £1m and then he chinned those two players from St Etienne and was banned. After that he moved to England and the rest is history.

"I found Eric a nice lad. He used to come in on his Harley Davidson and he was fine, quiet. He didn't take any crap! If people tried to be clever with him, you'd know about it. He was a good player and you could see that he could play. He was big, six-foot plus, strong and had good vision. I think he enjoyed English football more than French because teams that played Marseille backed up a lot, whereas in English football there is more space and he wasn't man-marked. It's strange because when you talk to people in France they are surprised how great he was in England. He was considered good in France, but never great. In England he gets a big adulation and you have to say he was excellent for the Premier League."

Chris Waddle was speaking ahead of ESPN's upcoming Premier League and European football matches. Visit espn.co.uk/tv for details.

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