69 CAPS 14 GOALS
European Championships: 2 (EURO 2000 AND EURO 2008)
Best Stage Reached: WINNERS
Tournament Appearances: 8
Tournament Goals: 0
One of the more controversial players of the modern era, it is unsurprising that Nicolas Anelka enjoyed a colourful international career to say the least.
The forward can look back on Euro 2000 and Confederations Cup 2001 winner’s medals, but often found himself out of favour before the French Football Federation called a premature end to his time with Les Bleus following a contentious World Cup campaign in 2010.
Starting his career with Paris Saint Germain, he moved to Arsenal in 1997 when only 17, with his impressive performances during the Gunners’ 1997/98 double-winning season earning him an international debut against Sweden in April 1998.
But despite his success at club level, he would miss out on a place in France’s World Cup squad as they went on to win the tournament as the host nation.
Establishing himself as a regular during their Euro 2000 qualification campaign as the World Champions qualified for the finals in Belgium and the Netherlands, Anelka marked his maiden start for France with his first international goal in a 3-2 victory over Russia.
Moving to Real Madrid in 1999 in a £23m deal, the striker’s time at the Bernabeu was an unhappy one and he was on the move again the following summer – returning to Paris Saint-Germain after just one year in Spain.
However, Anelka still finished the season as a Champions League winner after coming back into the Madrid side towards the end of the season, scoring in both legs of their semi-final victory over Bayern Munich before starting as Los Merengues beat Valencia in the final.
Included in France’s squad for Euro 2000, he started their final warmup game before the tournament against Morocco, scoring in a 5-1 victory, before retaining his place in their opening two matches of the tournament against Denmark and Czech Republic.
A substitute in France’s final group game against co-hosts the Netherlands and quarter-final victory over Spain, he returned to the starting line-up for their semi-final clash with Portugal.
Having fallen behind to Nuno Gomes’ first half strike, the forward set up Thierry Henry’s equaliser to get the French back on level terms and force extra-time.
Zinedine Zidane then struck from the penalty spot late on to secure their place in the final courtesy of a golden goal win, only for Anelka to remain unused as France beat Italy to be crowned European Champions after another golden goal victory.
The forward was also a member of France’s Confederations Cup winning side the following year, scoring once against South Korea in the group-stages before starting in their semi-final and final victories over Brazil and Japan.
Despite enjoying promising spells with Liverpool, Manchester City and Fenerbache, Anelka missed out on a place in France’s squad for the 2002 World Cup, where they suffered a shock group-stage exit, as well as their 2003 Confederations Cup, Euro 2004 and 2006 World Cup squads.
But after joining Bolton Wanderers in a then club-record deal in August 2006, Anelka’s impressive performances saw him return to international favour as he netted four times in Euro 2008 qualification, before moving to Chelsea in January 2008.
Named in France’s Euro 2008 squad for the finals in Austria and Switzerland, the striker started their opening game as they drew with Romania, before being utilized only as a substitute in their defeats to the Netherlands and Italy as they suffered another shock group-stage exit.
Bouncing back to win the Premier League, two FA Cups and the Premier League golden boot with Chelsea, he also helped France qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa – scoring twice in qualification as well as in their play-off victory over Republic of Ireland.
However, the finals would again prove to be a disappointment for France as they suffered another group-stage exit, with Anelka being sent home early after falling out with Head Coach Raymond Domenech having been substituted at half-time against Mexico.
The disagreement prompted the France squad to go on strike and boycott training prior to their final group match against South Africa, as defeat condemned them to another early exit.
Banned for 18 months by the FFF following the tournament, he decided to retire from international football as his France career was brought to a premature end.
Last season Anelka served as Mumbai City’s player-manager, having alsoa enjoyed stints with Shanghai Shenhua, Juventus and West Bromwich Albion in recent seasons.