Koscielny 'wanted France to lose'

Defender Laurent Koscielny says France's World Cup win hurt him more psychologically than his injury before the tournament and was a key factor leading to his retirement from the national team.
Defender Laurent Koscielny says France's World Cup win hurt him more psychologically than his injury before the tournament and was a key factor leading to his retirement from the national team.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny announced the end of his international career with France on Sunday, before hitting out at World Cup-winning coach Didier Deschamps for his silent treatment while recovering from a long-term injury.

Koscielny, who won 51 caps with Les Bleus and participated in three major tournaments, suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon during Arsenal's Europa League semi-final defeat by Atletico Madrid in May and consequently missed out on France's triumph in Russia.

The 33-year-old, who is expected to return to full training next month, had initially intended to bow out from international duty after the June-July tournament.

In an interview with French TV channel Canal+, Koscielny took umbrage with the way he was shunned after being ruled out for a significant period of time, saying that "lots of people disappointed me".

"I have given everything I can for France. My injury does not change my decision. For Les Bleus, it is finished," he confirmed.

"I will always be a supporter of the French team, but what is certain is that I will not put on the blue jersey."

He also confirmed that the pain of missing out on France's second World Cup success was a contributory factor which led to his decision to hang up his boots for his country.

"France's World Cup victory did me a lot more psychological damage than my injury did me," he added.

"The World Cup will remain a dark spot of my career," Koscielny told Canal+.

"The injury was hard to accept. The result was even harder because they won the World Cup.

"I was really happy for them, but also disgusted. You cannot feel like a world champion, as the 60 million French could. It's a strange feeling that during the tournament, I wanted them to qualify but, at the same time, I wanted them to lose. That was my feeling at the time."

Koscielny was also critical of Deschamps, suggesting that he felt unwanted by the coach. "He called me once for my birthday in September. Otherwise, no," he said.

"It feels like a hit on the back of the head. When you are in good form, you have lots of friends. When you are injured... after a certain period of time, you are forgotten."

While Koscielny remains in rehabilitation, he is eager to come back stronger and win back his place in Unai Emery's starting XI after the worst injury of his career.

"I have a new state of mind, there will be the Laurent before and the Laurent after injury. I want to continue (for) Arsenal, I want to return quickly. I want to fight," he insisted.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2018, with the headline 'Koscielny 'wanted France to lose''. Print Edition | Subscribe