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As far as challenges go, that was all the best for Youri Djorkaeff.
A World Cup and European Championship winner with France, the attacking midfielder had been a teammate of the best players in the world and Sam Allardyce convinced him to make Bolton his next stop 20 years ago in February 2002.
So how did he sell the Premier League club to him?
“He didn’t think Yuri was going to jump on a flight and asked to be shown,” Allardyce assistant Phil Brown told talkSPORT.
“So he took Bolton to Youri,” explaining that Big Sam traveled to Nice to make his pitch.
“He sat down with a laptop and showed him the schools in Bolton, the good neighborhoods to live in, the training ground, the training methods, the sports science department and Yuri was blown away” , continued Brown.
“He actually sold the idea to her without Yuri setting foot in England.”
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Djorkaeff initially joined Bolton until the end of the season when he was released from his contract with Bundesliga side Kaiserslautern, with Allardyce calling him the biggest signing in the club’s history at the time. .
Previously, he played for PSG and Inter where he won the 1998 UEFA Cup alongside Ronaldo, Diego Simeone and Javier Zanetti. That same year, he also played in the World Cup final, helping Zinedine Zidane and co. beat Brazil.
And it was the 33-year-old’s desire to continue playing for his country that persuaded him to join the relegation fight despite his talks with Liverpool and Manchester United at the same time.
” I talked to [Liverpool manager] Gérard Houllier, who was a great friend, but he said I can’t promise to play all the time. We were approaching the 2002 World Cup and I spoke to Roger Lemerre, the French national coach, who told me that I had to play to be considered.
“It was the same with Sir Alex [Ferguson]. So, I thought: “I will go to Bolton for the last 12 games.” I didn’t know what to expect but I was in love with England, in love with its s****y climate, the people, the fans.
The feeling was mutual and he helped bring the club to safety and decided to stay on for two more seasons, playing in a dream midfield alongside Ivan Campo and Jay-Jay Okocha.
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From winning the UEFA Cup with Ronaldo and Diego Simeone to trying to keep Bolton in the Premier League
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