There are football players, there are artists, there are entertainers and then there is Matthew Le Tissier. Few have entertained football fans like ‘Le God’ has.
The Wayne Rooneys, and Didier Drogbas of this world, eat your heart out – Tessier was the quintessential magician of the Premier League. Matt was a genius, who had the knack of pulling off something special every time he had the ball. Despite being one of the most coveted stars in England during his heydays, Matt was a one-club man. He spent 16 incredible years with Southampton, something which is nearly unthinkable in this day and age.
Matthew Le Tissier
TheHardTackle caught up with the living legend, who was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule and answer our questions. The topics ranged from his favorite player, the bitterness between him and Glenn Hoddle, who ironically was also his childhood idol, and to who he thinks will win the Euro.
Amlan : Tell us something about your childhood and how you were attracted to the beautiful game. Tell us something about the football culture in Guernsey.
Matthew : I found very early on that I had been born with a talent to play football and I decided at about 8 years of age that what I was going to do with my life; football in Guernsey wasn’t played at a very high standard due to the very small population so I found myself scoring in nearly every game I played.
Amlan : During your early days, who was the one footballer who inspired you most? Is there someone you always wanted to play like? Who was your idol?
Matthew : Glenn Hoddle was my idol.
Amlan : Since you belong to Guernsey, you were eligible to play for any of the ‘home nations’ but chose to play for England – was it an easy decision or did opting for other nations come across your mind?
Matthew : It was a very easy decision. England was the only option in my mind.
Amlan : You spent your whole career (16 years!) at a single club. Do you think, in the present era, words like loyalty have lost their meaning in football?
Matthew : There is very little loyalty left in football due to the huge amounts of money available if you transfer and I find that very sad.
Amlan : According to reports, big clubs like Tottenham and Chelsea were interested in you. Did a thought of perhaps leaving Southampton ever cross your mind?
Matthew : Yes, I very nearly joined Tottenham in 1990.
Amlan : In your long stint at Southampton, you played under a lot of managers. From Chris Nicholl to Gordon Strachan, who was the best amongst them? Who influenced your career the most and how?
Matthew : Alan Ball was my best manager but my youth team coach Dave Merrington was the biggest influence during my career, he took my raw talent and turned it into something that was ready to play professional football.
Amlan : One of the most talked about incidents in your career is your omission from the 1998 world cup squad for England when Glenn Hoddle was in charge. How disappointed were you then? Did you ever have any problem getting on with Hoddle when he was at charge of Southampton because of this?
Matthew : Yes me and Glenn didn’t get on very well at all. He was one of the most stubborn and arrogant men I’ve ever met; missing that World Cup was a huge blow to my career.
Amlan : Who is the best player you have played against or with? What trait did you admire most in him?
Matthew : Roberto Baggio was the best player I ever played against; he made football look very easy.
Amlan : Talking about footballing moments, you have given football fans so many moments to cherish, that it’s hard to pick one stand out. What according to you was your best footballing moment in your career?
Matthew : My England debut was my best moment but I also enjoyed scoring the last goal at the Dell.
Amlan : After so many years, do you have any regrets in your life, with respect to your career? Something you wished you could have changed?
Matthew : No regrets, life is too short for them.
Amlan : There are many football fans who believe the game has lost some of its soul, with the influx of big money, since the dawn of the 21st century. Do you agree with this? How is today’s game different from the era you played in? How do you see the future play out for the game?
Matthew : I think the future is bright but it has lost something and I think that something is the close relationship between players and fans that used to exist but doesn’t anymore.
Amlan : Among the present generation of footballers, is there any single player, who you think resembles you? Someone who, every time you watch play, you feel like saying “This guy plays like me”?
Matthew : There is a player at Southampton called Adam Lallana who I see similarities with and hopefully he has a great season in the Premier League.
Amlan : Tell us something about your role as Honorary President at Guernsey F.C. Is it something you have always wanted to do after you retired? Have you ever thought of starting a career in coaching? Is it something you will do in future should a suitable offer arrive?
Matthew : My brother is the secretary of the club and I wanted to help out as it’s a great idea for players in Guernsey to have the chance of playing at higher levels than they’ve been used to in the past. I have no real desire or plans to go into coaching.
Amlan : Give us your prediction for Euro 2012? How far will England go? Who will win the Euro? Which team is the dark horse?
Matthew : Before the tournament I said England will make the semi-finals and I stand by that. Spain, I think, will win but if France beat them in the quarter-finals then they will be the dark horses
Favorite music band/singer – Band singer… Shania Twain or Lonestar; I’m a fan of country music
Favorite song – Chesney Hawkes – The one and only
Favorite cuisine – Italian
Maradona or Pele ? – Pele
Favorite sport outside football – Golf
Favorite movie – Grease