Georgia’s Willy Sagnol gives perfect reply to critics with run at Euro 2024

Former France international has dedicated himself to his adopted country and now faces last-16 clash with Spain

It was known long before the press conference Willy Sagnol gave after Georgia’s defeat by Turkey that the French manager did not suffer fools gladly. What was not so well known was his remarkable command of colloquial English. “Twats,” he said of those who had criticised his team selection back home (more about which later). Then he said it again, with impeccable timing, before apologising – after a fashion – for the “tone” of his answer. The smile which accompanied the apology left no doubt.

Perhaps it was to be expected from a man who had to survive – and flourished – in the environment of Bayern Munich at the height of their “FC Hollywood” era, when he was an automatic starter at right-back for the team that won one Champions League, five Bundesliga titles and four German Cups between 2001 and 2008. “I played nine years for a club where punches were regularly thrown in the dressing room,” he once said. “That didn’t prevent us from winning a lot of things.”

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