CAMPHIN-EN-PEVELE, France, Nov 7 – Former Arsenal and France international Nicolas Anelka has taken a first step towards a potential coaching role after agreeing to advise Lille’s up-and-coming strikers.
Anelka, 39, “will work at Lille’s youth academy advising the apprentices, in particular focusing on the work and specific role of strikers,” the club said in a statement.
Lille president Gerard Lopez told AFP Anelka will “work with players ranging from 14 years old up to the reserve team”.
Described as a future star of the France team when he made his professional debut with Paris Saint-Germain in 1996, Anelka went on to enjoy a globe-trotting career that took him from Arsenal to Mumbai via some of the biggest clubs in Europe including a stint at Real Madrid.
After a return to PSG (2000-2002) he went on loan to Liverpool before joining Manchester City (2002-2005), Fenerbahce, Bolton and Chelsea, where he played his last meaningful campaigns in 2008-2012.
At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa Anelka’s France career came to an abrupt and controversial end.
He was handed an 18-match ban by the French Football Federation (FFF) after insults aimed at coach Raymond Domenech sparked the now infamous Knysna players’ strike.
Anelka ended his playing career in 2015 after 13 games with Mumbai City in the Indian top flight, whom he also briefly coached.
Lille coach Christophe Galtier said Anelka, now 39, was happy to cut his coaching teeth “out of the spotlight”.
“Nicolas is really enthusiastic. He wants to stay out of the spotlight and bring some of his striking expertise and know-how to our young players,” said Galtier.
“But for the moment he does not want to get involved with the professionals.”