Anelka: ‘Football is global, but the true quality is in Barcelona’


The French striker enrolls his kids in the Marcet intensive courses: ”To make it you need to put in more work and less mobile phone time”.

Few players can boast a resume as extensive and impressive as Nicolas Anelka. Throughout his career, the French striker wore the shirt of teams such as PSG, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea or Juventus. Barcelona is one of the few ‘footballing capitals’ not listed in his extensive history, but it is also the city that the Parisian phenomenon trusts when it comes to training his two children.

“A good friend told me that I could find quality players and good coaches here,” Anelka explains as he watches an individual technique session at the Marcet headquarters. “In France there are also academies of this type, but this year I wanted to change. I have taken my children to this academy because I want them to improve. Football is worldwide, but where there really is quality is in Spain, and especially in Barcelona. Marcet it is an academy with many students and the level is very, very high. Here there are intelligent players and I love Spanish football precisely because it has quality and is competitive.”

“This academy has many students and the level is very, very high and the players intelligent”

The French striker, who currently works coaching forwards in the lower categories of Lille, does not miss a single one of his children’s training sessions, who are aged 9 and 11. There are very good players in both countries and the successes of these teams in recent years show it. “I used to play in the street at that age. It was completely different. There were not many intensive courses of this type, where the boys train with players from all over the world. We couldn’t, we just played with people from our neighborhood or from our city”.

Nicolas Anelka durante un partido que jugño con la Selección francesa.
Nicolas Anelka during a match with the French National Team.

The international origins of Marcet students is highly valued by Anelka. “It is positive to be able to see Spanish, Chinese, American players… Not only to get to know different cultures, but also to see their level and make comparisons. That is important for young people and it is something that when I was a child I did not have the possibility of doing”.

However, for the former striker of the French National Team, not everything has changed for the better over the years. Technological advances, for example, can be a double-edged sword: “Thanks to social networks, today there are many more young people who want to be professional footballers. That has generated more competition and new generations face an even greater challenge to in reaching elite football.”

“It is important for young people to train and come into contact with players from all over the world”

Following this line of thought, Anelka takes great care to not generate added pressure on his children. “In the world of football there is more and more money, and there are many parents who want their children to become professional players at any cost. It is too much ambition for children of 10 or 11. At that age you have to let them live football day by day, in a simple way, without pressing them. The road ahead is still long and when they are 15 or 16 years old they can begin to understand whether or not they can become professionals.”

When it comes to children, it is not right to ask too many sacrifices of them,” warns the Frenchman, who has won 15 titles over the years, including two Premier Leagues, a Champions League and a European Championship. “Perhaps the only sacrifice we have to ask our children to make is to lessen their phone time. Back in my day there was none of that and it was easier to focus on football. Today social networking and video games are taking space away from sport. So my advice for young football players is simple: more work. If you really love football, it is not through a mobile phone that you are going to be professional players.”

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