English Premiership

Anelka mulls retirement

2013-08-23 12:11
Nicolas Anelka (File)

London - Nicolas Anelka's latest stint in the Premier League could be over after only 83 minutes.

The former France striker, who started in West Bromwich Albion's opening day loss to Southampton last weekend, is pondering retirement following the death of his agent.

After two disappointing seasons at Shanghai Shenhua and Juventus, the 34-year-old striker was hoping to get another chance in England, where he spent some of the best years of his career. But he told West Brom manager Steve Clarke that he wanted to quit football following the sudden death of Eric Manasse.

After learning on Thursday that Manasse had passed away, the former Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Bolton and Chelsea player left training and was granted an indefinite compassionate leave.

"Obviously Nicolas lost a close friend and an agent over the weekend, he died suddenly," Clarke said Friday. "I went in and had a very brief chat with him, and he wasn't in a good place. So the club have decided just to give him a bit of time to go away and think about it and get himself in a better place for the future."

Clarke said Anelka told different members of the club that he wanted to retire but added that he asked the player to think twice about his decision.

"I'm not going to deny that he used that word in the conversations we had with him," Clarke said. "But we've given him time to go away and think about it and I don't think we could do any more in the circumstances as they were."

Anelka, whose career has also been managed by his brother Claude, wrote on his Facebook page that he was feeling an "immense sorrow" following the death of Manasse.

If Anelka decides to retire for good, it will mark the end of the career of one of the most talented and controversial players France has produced since former Manchester United great Eric Cantona.

After growing up in a Parisian suburb, Anelka started his career at Paris Saint-Germain and was quickly spotted by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who signed him in 1997.

Known for his immense technical and athletic qualities, Anelka played a big part in the Gunners' "double" win of the Premier League and the FA Cup that season but missed out on a place in the France team that won the 1998 World Cup.

Anelka's sometimes nonchalant attitude and apparent lack of commitment to the team started to anger the Arsenal fans, who gave him the nickname "Le Sulk." Anelka then joined Real Madrid, where he won the Champions League, before moving to PSG, Liverpool, Man City, Fenerbahce and Bolton.

The much-traveled Frenchman then struck up an electric partnership with Didier Drogba at Chelsea, winning the Premier League title and two FA Cups with the Blues.

Anelka caused the biggest controversy of his career with the French national team, when he was sent home from the 2010 World Cup after insulting then-coach Raymond Domenech in the dressing room. His reputation reached its nadir, but the stubborn Anelka refused to apologize and ended his international career in the wake of the scandal with 14 goals in 69 appearances.

Anelka recently agreed to a one-year deal with West Brom, with an option for a further season.

"I think I will finish in England. I'm happy here. I also hope that it will be with this club," Anelka said following his arrival. "I'm 34 years old now and I want to enjoy my football. I hope everything will be perfect."

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