Welcome Offer banners Welcome Offer banners

Football Insights – William Gallas

Former Premier League star William Gallas talks exclusively to Genting Casino about the captaincy appointment of Mbappe, the opening exchanges of the Euro Qualifiers and more. Read the full interview below and if playing online slots or premium live tables is your entertainment of choice then head over to Genting Casino and check out over 3000 casino games available to play on any device!


On France

Kylian Mbappé has recently been appointed as France’s new captain. He has been quite outspoken in the past, challenging the French Federation on image rights issues and forgoing media duties at the World Cup. As someone that was a regular captain throughout their career and also captained France - on one occasion according to my research - what qualities do you think he will bring to the role and do you think he was the right choice?   

I think Mbappé is the right choice to be the captain of France. The squad that Deschamps is assembling is the next generation of French players after some of the players that won the World Cup in 2018 retired. There are a lot of new faces in the team who are from Kylian’s generation, so I think it is a really good choice. 

I think Dider Deschamps decided to make him captain because Kylian is a fantastic player on the pitch and outside of the pitch, his communication is very good. As captain, I think he will help the players and he will address any concerns that they have by speaking to the right people. Even though he is still young, he has a lot of experience discussing important issues and he has wonderful people around him - he is a great choice. 


I saw comments from Mbappé where he mentioned he spoke to Antione Griezmann about being appointed captain after le petit prince expressed his sadness at being overlooked for the role by Deschamps - he was named the vice captain instead… 

Didier has his reasons for appointing Mbappé as his captain. When you look at the history of Griezmann, he is older and more experienced (than Mbappé), people thought he could have been appointed (as captain). Kylian has a strong image and he can represent the national team very well. 


Mbappé and France got off to a very good start, beating the Netherlands 4-0 in their first qualifier. Didier Deschamps extended his contract until 2026. Will he lead France to glory at the European Championships next year? 

France can become European champions in 2024. The team looks really strong - there is exceptional quality in every part of the pitch. I am still convinced that we need one top class right back; a natural right back. Joules Kounde is playing in that position at the moment, but that isn’t his natural position and he doesn’t play there for Barcelona. 

We are so strong in midfield and attack. It looks like we have a good chance to win the tournament. 


France are playing Ireland on Monday in Dublin, which was the scene of one of the most controversial moments in footballing history - certainly if you’re Irish - and you were at the heart of it. Thierry Henry handled the ball twice in the build-up to the goal you scored, giving France a 0-1 victory and securing passage to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The reaction to what happened was apocalyptic…. 

It was crazy. For me it was difficult to understand (such an angry reaction). This was a game with a ticket to the 2010 World Cup on the line, but even so, the reaction after the result was too crazy.

I think our country and football federation did not protect Thierry. After the game, some French pundits started to say that it was a disgrace to qualify like this. Don’t forget that in this period some French people didn’t want to see France at the World Cup for some reason 

If it was another country, if it was in England, do you think that some pundits and fans would react in the same way? I think they would say, ‘OK, a handball is a handball. The referee didn’t see it. We won the match and now we’re going to the World Cup. I am happy.’ In France some pundits and former players didn’t react like this. They blamed the players. They wanted Ireland to go to the World Cup and create a beautiful story. 

At the time, I wasn't happy with the way the French team and certain players were treated by some pundits and media. What followed the result wasn’t good. Thierry should have been given more protection. 


What was the immediate reaction like in the French dressing room after the game? 

To be honest, I scored the goal, but I had no idea about the handball - I didn’t see it at the time because there were players in front of me. I didn’t see Thierry touch the ball with his hand. Afterwards, in the dressing room, I realised what had happened, because the players were talking about it and told me Thierry touched the ball with his hand. I said, ‘OK. The referee didn’t see it. It’s not our fault. It is the fault of the referee.’ 

In the end, France went through to the World Cup. To play at the World Cup is a dream for every football player - we were happy about that. That is it. We didn’t feel bad (about qualifying). After there were a lot of questions from the media about it, my answer was always the same. We qualified and were happy to go to South Africa. 

OK, so afterwards… 

Do you remember when Luis Suarez stopped Ghana scoring a goal with a handball in the quarter finals of the 2010 World Cup? Did you see anything in the media from Uruguay or from their fans that called the incident a disgrace? Was there uproar when they qualified for the next round like this? Did you see anything like that? 

On Zlatan, Ronaldo, Messi And Kane 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic became Serie A’s oldest ever goalscorer at 41. He has just broken a record for being the oldest outfield player to play in a European qualifier. The evergreen Swede keeps doing the business and he’s not the only older player to be doing so. Ronaldo just became the most capped international male of all time at 38. Messi just reached 800 career goals at the age of 35. How much credit do these guys deserve for doing what they're doing? 

Listen, you have to respect Ibrahimovic, Ronaldo and Messi for what they have done in the past and for what they are doing in the present. It is incredible to be at that level at their age. This shows you how professional these players have been throughout their career and how crazy they are about football. 

Everything they do away from the pitch is perfect and that is very important if you want to stay at the very top of the game into your thirties and forties. To play at this age at the highest level is not easy. After training they know exactly what they need to do - they look after themselves; stretching, massage, sleeping well, nutrition and diet. 

They have followed a programme with dedication for years because they are serious professionals. We have to give these players a lot of credit and we have to respect them because they are a huge example for the next generation of players. The next generation should look at these players and follow them if they want to have a long career playing at the highest level. These guys have been behaving like this for twenty years or even longer - they are the best example you can find in football. 


Of the three legends I mentioned, you’ve faced all of them in your career. I don’t want to ask you to tell me who you think is the best, because they have all been magnificent. If you were going to watch a game as a fan, out of the three, who would you pay to watch? 

I would pay to watch all of them. If I owned a club. If I was a billionaire, I would sign all of them! I love watching these players. They are… you know, as a fan, it is nice to see them. We know that they are not as quick as they used to be, but that is normal as you get older, but they are very clever with how they play, how they move and how they impact the game and the players around them. 

Cristiano Ronaldo, after what happened to him during the World Cup, it was a big shame for him to finish the World Cup in the way he did. He came back to the national team and he scored two goals (in Portugal’s opening qualifier).

I think that Roberto Martinez (Portugal’s manager) was very clever because he knew how to use Cristiano and how important Cristiano can be for the national team. We know Cristiano won’t run fifteen kilometres in ninety minutes but maybe he can give you ten (kilometres) and he can still find himself in the right positions to score goals. 


Harry Kane became England’s record goalscorer when he netted against Italy. Kane is someone you saw develop as a youngster while you were at Tottenham. Did he stand out as a young player - what was he like? Did you ever think that he would go on and have the career that he has had, scoring all those goals? 

No. I didn’t think he would be the player we all know. I remember the first time I trained with him, we were doing a 5-a-side tournament and he was in my team. Harry’s focus was just on scoring goals - he had an obsession to score goals. The first thing he would think about was shooting, even if he wasn’t in the best position, he wanted to score.

I said to him, ‘Pass the ball, Harry! You don’t have to shoot all the time!’ He was obsessed (laughing). Score goals, score goals, score goals, that was what was going through his mind. He was seventeen years old, but that shows you how obsessed he was to score goals.

Now when you look at him, the way he plays, over the last few years he has changed his game, but he still scores goals because he has that quality. To become the record scorer for the england national team, we have to give him a lot of credit. 


Squeaky bum time, winning the title with Chelsea and the 2023 run-in 

There are ten games to go and the season is beautifully poised - there is a lot to play for at the top and the bottom of the table. You’ve been in the same situation that the Arsenal players are in now. Ten games to go, top of the league, what is running through your mind?   

I think what is very important is to not see yourself lifting the Premier League title. I think you have to take everything game by game - that is very important. Only think about the game that you are playing on the weekend, don’t think about big games that are coming up in one or two weeks time. 

Focus on one game at a time, that is very important. What can happen is that you can drop points against the smaller teams - we’ve spoken about this before with Arsenal - those teams are fighting for survival. They will fight for ninety minutes because they are fighting for their lives. That is why Arsenal and the Arsenal players just need to think game by game and I’m sure Mikel Arteta would have spoken to his players about this. 


When you were in the Chelsea dressing room in 2005, close to winning your first title under Mourinho, did he also make sure that there was no talk of winning it?  

Yeah. That was his approach, ‘One game at a time.’ The only thing that he said right at the beginning of the season was ‘If you want to be a champion, you have to follow me.’ That was it. With ten games to go he said ‘Let’s go game by game.’ 


So he (Mourinho) comes in at the start of the season and, obviously, we all know the press conference, the Special One, he’s just won the Champions League. He comes in and says ‘follow me to become a champion’. Wow! 

At this time, all the players agreed with what he said because in the Chelsea dressing room at that time, nobody had won anything. There were only three players that were champions - Ricardo Carvalho, Calude Makelele and Paulo Ferreira - that was it.

The rest of the players, we had experience, I was twenty seven at the time and most of the players were a similar age. We were ready to make the sacrifice. We were ready to suffer, work and train hard. We gave everything every weekend to become champions.

That is why we won back-to-back titles because the more matches you win, the more trophies you win, as a player you’re constantly looking for that winning feeling. Lifting the title at the end of the season is the best feeling you can have. 

You have to understand all of the sacrifices that we went through as players. When you wake up in the morning, you have to be ready. When you have a manager like Jose Mourinho, you know you have to be 100% in every single training session. You have to make sacrifices - there was no messing around - otherwise you would be on the bench or not even in the squad. At the end of the season, it was beautiful. 


I’m going to ask you one more question about that period because when you won your first title, you were twenty seven, it was the first title that Chelsea had won in fifty years. 

That was not my first title. My first title was when I was nineteen years old. I was a champion in Ligue 2 in France… 


Thank you for correcting me. 

(Laughter) Yes, yes. People forget. People forget (laughs). 


They won’t anymore! (laughs). Let’s go back there. When you won your first title, you won it with three games to  spare. You won it with two games to spare the following year after beating Manchester United at home 3-0. Can you describe what it was like to win back-to-back titles? You and the team must have felt like gods. 

When we won it for the second time, we started the season and after a few games we realised that all of the teams we played against were scared of us. Even before the whistle had blown - they were scared of us in the tunnel. The opponent was scared of us because we were so strong. We were winning game after game after game. We had that feeling that nobody could beat us, so it was easier for us to win the second title. 

At the same time, we had a manager that was always on your case; at halftime, after the game, the next training session. Whenever we analysed our matches on video, Mourinho would only show you your mistakes. That was very important for us because sometimes when you win game after game after game, you’re not as focussed as you were before.

You are a little bit too confident. When you have too much confidence sometimes you can get surprised, so that is why the role of Jose was very important for both of those championships.

When we lifted the Premier League title for the second time, to be honest with you, the emotion was the same as winning it the first time. It wasn’t different. Two in a row, it was the same feeling because you’re the king of England. You’re kings….it was more than incredible. To understand this feeling you have to have done it, you have to be on the pitch, lifting the trophy. 

On Arsenal 

How important will the experience of previous title-winners Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko be to the rest of the squad in the run-in? 

These are two players that are very important for the squad because they know exactly what can happen if the squad is not focussed on every game or if the squad gets too confident after a victory. I’m sure those players will be communicating with the others and explaining to them what is needed (to become a champion). It is not only Jesus and Zinchenko, you have Arteta, who won the Premier League as Pep’s assistant coach.

He knows very well what to do and he will be close to his players and will explain to them ‘OK, there are ten games to go. We’re close to the finish line, keep focussed, stay fresh and after the international break, I don’t want to hear anyone say they are tired.’ The next ten games will be very, very important and they still have to play against big teams.

Arsenal need to win against those teams. They are eight points clear - City have a game in hand - ten games is nothing, but it will be very difficult. It can be very long (when you’re leading from the front). It will feel like a very long time. Arsenal need to take it game by game. 


Bukayo Saka was the first player in the league to register double digits in his assists and goals columns this season. He is 21 years old and keeps on improving - where do you rate him in terms of the game’s best young players? 

With the season that he is having now, I think he is maybe one of the best young players in the world. You’ve got players that are a similar age who are also doing great things. Haaland is twenty two. I put him on the roof (laughs). I think you can put Saka just behind him. There are not too many players that are his age that are having a magnificent season. 

It’s good (Saka’s development). Every season he improves and takes his game to another level. I hope he is going to be one of the players that will challenge for the Balon d’Or in the future because he has the quality for it. That is why slowly, slowly, when you see what he is doing this season and how it compares to one or two years ago, it looks like he is a more decisive player.

He can assist, he can score goals, these numbers improve year after year. A player with his quality has to finish the season with fifteen or twenty goals. He is still young. He has the opportunity to improve. One player like him, when he reaches the age of twenty four, he has to finish the season with a minimum of twenty goals. 

On Chelsea 

I read recently that Graham Potter’s salary is £12m a year and that your old club paid a world-record £21m fee to extract him from Brighton. Do you think he is offering Chelsea value for money? 

Twenty one million…What is Chelsea’s position? Tenth? Do you think they will qualify for the Champions League? I don’t. For Chelsea this season, they have spent a lot of money for what? Look, they brought Mudryk for £100 million. In the last five or ten games Chelsea have played, he has started once.

I don’t know what is going on there to be honest. It looks like the American owners want to change everything straight away and they want to bring the American mentality, but it doesn’t work like this. You have to take things step by step, not try to do everything in one year.

It is a great shame (the season Chelsea are having) because I think players and the people who work at the club did a good job in the past to bring Chelsea to a very high level. I know there is a new owner, but it is still difficult to understand the season they’ve had so far - even if they are in the quarter final of the Champions League against Real Madrid.

The only thing that can help change their season is to win the Champions League. That is the only way they can save their season. 

On Tottenham 

What was your response to Antonio Conte’s explosive post-match interview where he criticised the players, he criticised the club. He pretty much criticised everybody. 

I think his answer, when he gave that interview, I think he gave that answer because people can criticise how he makes the players play - his tactics and system - I think he said something very interesting. He said ‘How many managers have managed Tottenham and how many times have Tottenham won the Premier League?’ 

That is a fact. A lot of different managers have trained the Spurs squads but in the end, they don’t have the results they want to get. That means they have to change something. They have to bring quality players to try and compete, to try and win the Premier League.

Tottenham is always in the same position fighting for fourth or fifth place. The last time they were close to winning anything was when they went to the Champions League final in 2019. They went to the final, but they didn’t win it. They have finished runners up once in the last ten years. Something has to change in the club for Tottenham to go to the level where they will be very difficult to beat.

They have everything there. I’ve been there. They have the facilities - the training ground is just unbelievable - they have the stadium. There is something missing. I think they need to bring in the right players to have a squad that is capable of competing for the Premier League title. It is that simple. 


Did you think that Conte’s comments were fair then? 

Sometimes it's difficult for people to hear the truth, because managers are expected to play the role of a diplomat. At the same time, people can blame Conte too because, like I said, it is his system, his tactics and he sets up the team to play in a certain way. I think, in this situation both sides have to take some responsibility (for Tottenham’s season). 


It's been widely reported that if Antonio Conte doesn’t leave the club soon, he certainly won't be there in the summer. 

I believe he is going to leave in the summer, that feels almost certain. 


What do you think needs to happen at the club in the summer? It feels like it's very, very important for Tottenham to get the summer right. The managerial appointment needs to be good, they need to freshen up the squad. What do you think they need to do? 

They have to find a manager that can deal with Daniel Levy! 


Does that guy exist, William? 

(Laughs) That is very simple. The next manager that goes into Tottenham has to accept the situation at the club and, I wonder if the very top managers will. I’m not talking about money, I’m talking about the squad he will give to the next manager. Levy will say ‘that is the squad you will have this season, deal with it.’

If Tottenham appoint a big manager, he will know after three training sessions that he needs better players. It is that simple. Some managers might think, ‘OK, I’m going to deal with Daniel Levy.’ Daniel Levy is a business guy, so that is the first thing the next manager of Tottenham needs to know. 


Did you ever have any run-ins with Daniel when you were a Tottenham player? 

No, I had a good relationship with him. No problems at all. 


There is always going to be speculation about Harry Kane’s future. I think it's criminal that a player of his talent doesn’t have any major trophies in his cabinet yet. He will be 30 in the summer, his contract expires in 2024 - both him and the club have a decision to make about his future. What do you think he should do? 

I feel he has to leave to win trophies. I read something about Tottenham asking for a lot of money to sell him. 

I think at thirty years old, £100 million will be his price. For me he has to leave. I feel it he doesn’t leave, he will regret it. I’ve said this before. I don't want Harry to be like some of the players who have had the quality to lift the Premier League trophy but have failed to do it.

At the end, when you stop playing, the only thing that you can see are your trophies. OK, he has individual records. OK he can become the top scorer in the history of the Premier League, but where are the trophies? He doesn’t have that feeling. He doesn't know what it feels like to lift the title, that's why he has to leave as I believe Daniel Levy can’t give him the players alongside him, to take Tottenham to the next level where they will win it. That is a problem.

 On Conte Sacking






Genting Casino is a leading global casino brand. We provide a premium online casino experience with our huge selection of online slots and live casino games. Genting has been recognized many times for its work in creating fun, safe gaming experiences winning multiple industry awards during its 50 years in business

V: 1.26.2 All rights reserved. August 2021