Football: Now Anelka hints at quitting

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The Independent Online
NICOLAS ANELKA has threatened to quit football just a month after joining the top Spanish club Real Madrid. The French international striker, substituted 10 minutes into the second half of his country's Euro 2000 qualifier in Ukraine at the weekend which finished goalless, is ready to walk away from the game.

"If I continue not enjoying myself out on the pitch, then maybe it is time to stop playing football," said the pounds 23m former Arsenal player. It would be better to do that. Perhaps too much is expected of me. I am only 20 and I should be enjoying myself out there on the pitch. But that is not happening, and I am very sad about that," he said.

The Frenchman, who was critical of the British media during and after his stormy stay at Highbury, has also threatened to snub the Spanish press if the heavy scrutiny of him continues.

"I don't like the agitation there is around me, which I am not looking for," he said last week. "I have asked that journalists keep me out of the papers. If it continues, I will not speak to them anymore."

His tempestuous nature caused several rows with his Highbury team-mates, most notably the Dutchman Marc Overmars, who, he claimed, never passed him the ball. And the Frenchman has already started on the wrong foot at the Bernabeu.

He has still not scored for Real and, to make matters worse, the "enfant terrible" of European football has levelled similar criticism at Spanish internationals Raul and Fernando Morientes.

"They know each other really well. They are not great players - but players who always give each other the ball," he said.

But Anelka was honest enough to admit his performance in Kiev was not up to scratch, and he has not scored for his country since he struck twice against England at Wembley in February. "There are no excuses, none," he said. "I had a bad match, but that's life. These things happen. At this moment I am not in my best form.

"It is not the system that we are playing. I have played in it before and been successful. No, against Ukraine I could not link up with the other players. Simple moves like a one-two, they were not coming off for me."