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Bixente Lizarazu: Bayern were the better team in the 1999 Champions League Final

Lizarazu speaking at the finals of the Adidas FC Bayern Youth Cup
Lizarazu speaking at the finals of the Adidas FC Bayern Youth Cup
Mohak Arora
Modified 04 Feb 2019, 16:24 IST

Bixente Lizarazu needs no introduction, the defender won 6 Bundesliga titles, 5 DFB Cups, one UEFA Champions League title and an Intercontinental cup in his professional career. He was also part of the France squad that won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championships as well.

When asked about the biggest achievement of his career according to him, the left-back said "I have to say two. The '98 World Cup in France and the Champions League in 2001 with Bayern (Munich) because they are the top trophies to win (at the international and club level respectively)."

Being the hosts, Les Blues were the favourites for the 1998 World cup and the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Lilian Thuram, Laurent Blanc, Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Didier Deschamps in the squad, increased their chances of a trophy.

When asked whether there was too much pressure in the build-up to the '98 World Cup, the former Bayern player shrugged, "No, there was not much pressure. We were well prepared and strong enough to handle that, that's why we had the success, we had enough talent in the team and we were strong in the brain and we made good preparations."

Many credit France's 1998 World Cup win to Ronaldo's absence in the final but Lizarazu says that the France dressing room wasn't affected much by the team news. "During (the first) five minutes, we were like, are you sure, he isn't playing? After five minutes, we said, we don't care, it's Ronaldo or someone else, we are France, we think about us and not about the problems of Brazil " he said.

The 49-year old was in India to overlook the 2018-19 National Finals of the Adidas FC Bayern Youth Cup and was impressed by the overall standard and the potential shown by the young kids at the tournament. In the final, Army Boys School, Bengaluru defeated DPS East, Bengaluru 2-1 and would be representing India under the observational eyes of Bayern coaches in Munich in May 2019.

The World Cup-winning player was told that he would never become a professional footballer as a teenager due to his small stature and frail physicality but the 5'7" defender says that technical ability is more important for any footballer than physicality.

He said "I tell every professional football aspirant that it's very important to have a good ability with the ball individually and then to train together with the team. For me, it's more important to train the technique than to train the physique."

The six-time Bundesliga winning player continued, "When you are young, the ball must be your friend and you can train physically when you are older. You have to practice a lot to have good control of the ball, then you can think about things like the way of playing, tactics, how to defend but that comes later on."

When asked about the 1999 Champions League final, the French-Basque defender came up with a statement that won't go down well with the Manchester United fans. He said, "I was injured in 1999 (CL final) and it was terrible to see my friends lose the match as they were the better team on the day but we got the revenge in 2001."

Published 03 Feb 2019, 23:25 IST
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