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Ex-France, Liverpool, Lazio striker’s come and get me plea to Sunderland

An ex-France, Liverpool, Lazio striker’s come and get me plea to Sunderland has captured a lot of people’s attention it would seem.

That man is Djibril Cissé who currently plays as out in the United States for Panathinaikos Chicago in the National Premier Soccer League.

He started his career at AC Arles in 1989, at the age of eight and during the seven years he was at the club, he had a six-month spell at Nîmes Olympique, before moving to AJ Auxerre, joining the club’s youth system. Cissé spent two years in the system, before being promoted to the first team in 1998. After playing for Auxerre for six seasons, scoring 90 goals in 166 appearances, he signed for Premier League giants Liverpool in 2004.

During his time at Anfield, Cissé played 79 games, scoring 24 times and winning the 2004–05 UEFA Champions League and 2005–06 FA Cup. He went on to play in Greece with Panathinaikos, Italy with Lazio, Qatar with Al-Gharafa and Russia with Kuban Krasnodar. He also had further spells in English football with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers, and France with Olympique de Marseille and SC Bastia.

In 2015, Cissé made one appearance for French side JS Saint-Pierroise, before retiring from professional football. In the course of his career, Cissé suffered from two leg breaks, breaking his left leg in 2004, and his right leg in 2006. Talk about bad luck ay?

Cissé represented the France national football team at the 2002 and 2010 FIFA World Cups and was also part of les Bleus’ 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup winning squad.

MORE ON CISSE’S LINKS WITH SUNDERLAND

Cisse netted 10 goals in 35 top-flight appearances at the Wearside outfit before sealing a move to Panathinaikos despite expressing a desire to stay at Sunderland.

The former Liverpool and QPR attacker turned 40 this week and received a happy birthday Instagram post from Sunderland’s official account.

That post produced a reply back from Cisse, who said back to the League One side: “Thank you! Let’s make a comeback.”

As some may recall, it was just a last month that he also stated on social media that if Sunderland wanted him then ‘he’ll be there’.

Cissé hailed his “brilliant” affectionate working relationship with Roy Keane at Sunderland at the Stadium of Light – despite poor results suggesting otherwise.

He spent the 2008/09 campaign on loan in the North East from Marseille, scoring a debut winner against Tottenham which was one of 10 league goals in a limp season for the club.

Sunderland finished in 16th position after coming home in 15th the previous campaign, Keane stepped down in early December after a dismal run of five defeats in six. Despite that poor form, however, Cissé speaks positively of his time under the Irishman – even after a memorable dressing-down at half-time during one game.

“Oh, I love the guy! Marseille had spent some money on new players by then, so when my agent contacted me and said Roy Keane would like me to join Sunderland on loan, I considered it. I wasn’t getting enough match time at Marseille, so I thought, ‘Why not?’

“Roy was brilliant. I was never nervous around him. We have a lot in common and both take football very seriously – I never forgot how important any club was. Roy was always very straight with me and got the best out of me.

“I remember one game: at half-time, we came in and I hadn’t played great; not that bad, but I hadn’t been myself. Roy walked in and went for me. Oh my god, he was screaming at me – really crazy, really loud. It took me back 15 years, when Guy Roux used to shout at me as a kid [at Auexerre].

“I realised what Roy was doing. Like Guy, he was trying to get me going. So, I lifted my head up and smiled. I smiled, knowing what he was doing. Well, Roy just got even angrier. ‘What the f**k are you smiling for?!’ he shouted.

“Anyway, after 10 minutes I scored and sprinted over to him on the touchline. ‘Well done, boss,’ I said. ‘I know exactly what you were doing!’ He looked at me like I was mad. But I did love the guy.”

A few years back, the French striker claimed Sunderland went back on their word when they refused to make his loan move from Marseille permanent at the end of the season.

“I went into the final game thinking that I was going to be taken on,” Cissé says.

“Because I had been told, when we are safe, we talk contracts. It’s either a lie or a misunderstanding on my side but I think I understand English well enough to understand what that sentence means. I am angry because I had tried to talk to them in January about my future and the manager [Ricky Sbragia] said: ‘Djib, you have to stop talking.’ So I stopped talking. The chairman said that I had to wait until we are safe so I wait until the last day to hear: ‘Thank you, we are not going to take up the option.’ Luckily, I have opportunities at other clubs, otherwise I would be stuck.”

The price to keep Cissé had been set with Marseille at €9m (£7.7m) in August, when he moved to Sunderland. The weakening of the pound meant the Black Cats had to pay more in sterling, and Niall Quinn put that forward to Cissé as one of the main reasons why he came to his decision to offload him. The other was that he felt Cissé had failed to gel with his strike partner, Kenwyne Jones.

“They had to pay €9m to Marseille, which was £7m at the time and it is now about £8m, but I still don’t think that is a lot of money for a striker who is going to score 15 goals,” Cissé says. “I can’t take this excuse, that’s why I am annoyed. If you want to stay in the Premier League and try to be regulars in the Premier League, you’re going to have to pay more than £10m for strikers. I am just waiting to see who they buy. Are they going to find a £6m striker or are they going to buy a £12-15m striker? I am going to know whether they bullshit me or not.”

Cissé scored 10 goals from 29 Premier League starts, Jones 10 from 25. Cissé added one goal to his tally in cup football, Jones two. Cissé’s return was not as prolific as it had been in previous seasons with Auxerre, Liverpool and Marseille, yet he believed it was respectable in a struggling team, and felt they could build on what they had for future success. He also felt “it was wrong to say that me and Kenwyne didn’t gel”.

“It’s not straightaway that partnerships happen,” he continues. “I talked to Dwight Yorke, who I am really proud to know because he was one of my idols, and he said that his partnership with Andy Cole [at Manchester United] didn’t just happen. It was work and time spent together.” What of the rumour that Cissé did not get on with Jones? “That’s bollocks,” he says. “Kenwyne is a player that I get on with the most. We listen to the same music, we are friends.”

Cissé knew Marseille “are not going to be an obstacle on my transfer” and he wanted to stay in England, partly because of his English wife, Jude, and their young children, but also to prove a point.

“If I had the chance to come back to another English club, I’d have to face Sunderland and it would be up to me to make them regret their decision,” he says. “Sometimes you have to be strong and show the people that they have made a big mistake. Obviously, what I did this season wasn’t enough for Ricky and Niall Quinn so we will see next season.”

He since went on to sign for QPR and played against Sunderland in what ended up being a 0-0 draw at the Stadium of Light during the 2012/13 season.

CISSE’S CAREER STATS:

Youth career
1989–1996 – Arles-Avignon
1996 – Nîmes
1996–1998 – Auxerre

Senior career-
1998–2004 – Auxerre – 128 games (70 goals)
2004–2007 – Liverpool – 49 games (13 goals)
2006–2007 → Marseille (loan) – 21 games (8 goals)
2007–2009 – Marseille – 37 games (16 goals)
2008–2009 → Sunderland (loan) – 35 games (10 goals)
2009–2011 – Panathinaikos – 61 games (47 goals)
2011–2012 – Lazio – 18 games (1 goal)
2012–2013 – Queens Park Rangers – 26 games (9 goals)
2013 → Al-Gharafa (loan) – 9 games (1 goal)
2013 – Kuban Krasnodar – 15 games (4 goals)
2014–2015 – Bastia – 23 games (2 goals)
2015 – Saint-Pierroise
2017–2018 – Yverdon – 28 games (24 goals)
2018–2019 – AC Vicenza 1902
2021– Panathinaikos Chicago
Total – 452 games (205 goals)

National team
1998–2002 – France U21 – 4 games (6 goals)
2002–2011 – France – 41 games (9 goals)

Fans reacted after seeing the ex-France, Liverpool, Lazio striker’s come and get me plea to Sunderland…

@DeclanWelch: He’s been saying this for months. Why the fuck have we not offered him a trial through pre season same with anichebe. They’re both past it and would possibly flopped but on a trial basis while we were playing friendlies… why didn’t we give it a shot? 🤣

@JAReveley: It’s a good point. If he came in and is miles off the pace then so what, we lose nothing. He won’t need the money so if was happy to sit on the bench, take a low basic with add ons then I’d be all for it. Even at 40 he’d be canny to have in this league if we needed a goal.

@AndyPhillips1: Announce @DjibrilCisse

@englanduk91: He would tare this league apart in my eyes and he could give the youth some more umph at how a world class player still wants to play for us he would educate the youngsters at the same time better than grigg and Graham

@RunGMC16: Please could you explain in detail why we haven’t signed him yet

@Tommyesafc: He may be 40 but I bet he’d still be top scorer in L1.

@FinleyCarr10: Might aswell just sign him now

@SpeakSAFC: Could never be a worse decision than re signing Danny Graham, could it?

@WestSussexSAFC: Announce Cisse.

@mike_whittle: @DjibrilCisse Would love to see you back in the Red and White stripes this season man!

@Paarylad614: Announce Djibril

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