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Football Reporting


Emmanuel Petit admits regret over Arsenal exit and telling Arsene Wenger phone call

Emmanuel Petit concedes he regrets leaving Arsenal for Barcelona in 2000 and believes his ego got in the way.

The midfielder had just won the European Championships with France and received a call from Arsene Wenger.

Arsenal had received an offer from Barcelona and Petit didn’t feel a huge desire from the Gunners to keep him.

As a result he quickly sorted out personal terms and finalised a switch to the Nou Camp despite not wanting the move.

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His ex-wife was keen to leave London at the time and Petit admits her wants were a factor in a move he now regrets.

Speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes at its launch of the 5-A-Side Bet on Crystal Palace v Chelsea, he said: “I fell in love with Arsenal and the supporters very quickly, and it was a big mistake when I left the club.

Emmanuel Petit regrets his Arsenal exit
Emmanuel Petit regrets his Arsenal exit

“I look back now and I know I left the club simply because of my ego.

“When I won the Euros with France in 2000, I had two weeks off and I remember being in France with my ex-wife.

“She was driving and my phone rang, I could see it was Arsene so I answered and he told me Barcelona wanted to sign me. I asked Arsene what he thought and he said ‘if you want to go, good luck’.

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The midfielder sealed a switch to Barcelona, but wasn't keen on the move
The midfielder sealed a switch to Barcelona, but wasn’t keen on the move

“So I didn’t feel like Arsenal wanted to keep me. Because of that feeling I got, I started to think that maybe my future was elsewhere.

“So in my mind it was clear after that conversation that Arsenal had made their decision. I needed to speak with Barcelona to agree personal terms and that’s what I did.

“But I regret that move because I didn’t really want to go to Barcelona. I think I followed my ex-wife’s decision in that move.

“She was tired of living in London and she was born under the sun in a country where she had so much sun, so she wanted to return to that.”

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