They said it: Lemerre
© AFP

During the course of his long and successful managerial career, current Morocco coach Roger Lemerre has guided national teams to silverware both in Europe and Africa. Indeed, this esteemed product of the French Football Federation's national technical directorate took his native France to victory at UEFA EURO 2000 as well as winning the CAF Africa Cup of Nations 2004 as Tunisia coach and guiding the Carthage Eagles to the 2006 FIFA World Cup™.

As a former player who started out at an attacker before dropping into defence, he always had an exemplary attitude to his profession while showing utter contempt for anything he saw as dishonest or unfair. And like all of those who have helped shape French football from the National Technical Centre at Clairefontaine, he shares the belief that coaches must be given complete freedom.

In spite or perhaps because of this, he has always had a rocky relationship with the media marked by suspicion and mistrust. FIFA.com takes a look at just some of the offbeat words of wisdom to have come from this well-educated and hypersensitive character over the years.

"Don't give up on football and football won't give up on you!" A watchword throughout Lemerre's career.

"I'm not interested in plots, calculations, insinuations, or debates. I'm the French team's biggest fan. If my hat knew who I was voting for, I'd burn it." Lemerre's enigmatic statement in the days following Les Bleus' qualification for UEFA EURO 2000.

"You won't make me say what I don't want to, even if you might have trouble working me out." Lemerre's response to rumours about his potential resignation.

"I don't doubt that my players are adults, but are they always reasonable? That I don't know, although being an adult and being reasonable should go hand in hand." Lemerre on his squad at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

"The French team is like a good book. It's sometimes hard to get into it, but the more you read the more you realise its value and you don't want to put it down." Lemerre after a hard-fought win in Scotland.

"The French team is a duty, it's just as well we're not going off to war. Defending my country's flag is my contribution." Lemerre at the French training camp in Tignes before EURO 2000.

"I know it, Little Nicolas (fictional character in a series of children's books) knows it, you people don't. Being an adult means knowing how to hold your tongue." Lemerre on whether Nicolas Anelka had been selected in the EURO 2000 squad.

"I don't like snitches - that's how wars start." Lemerre at a French training camp before EURO 2000, on players who speak to journalists outside of press conferences.

"There is no number 1, 2 or 3. But the number 1 knows he's number 1. And the three of them know who's number 1. As for who's 2 and 3, that's up to me. This is what I do for a living and I haven't seen them at each other's throats." Lemerre on the goalkeeping pecking order at EURO 2000.

"This team is like a student at the top of his class who can't help being ahead of the others." Lemerre after winning UEFA EURO 2000.

"He's a loyal and intelligent player with great people skills and exceptional analytical qualities. I wish him all the best." Lemerre on Didier Deschamps' 100th cap.

"We were punished and we have to accept it. Will I continue? I haven't given that any thought yet. Right now I have to accept defeat just as I would have accepted victory." Lemerre after France's elimination from the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

"I don't believe in imposing bans." Lemerre in response to critics who accused him of a lax style of managing the French squad.

"Tunisia is more Latin than the Latin countries themselves and more French than the French themselves." Lemerre after being named coach of the Carthage Eagles.

"I don't deal with simpletons or idiots." Lemerre in response to Anis Boussaidi who had accused him of sabotaging his transfer.

"Defeated teams today will not necessarily be so tomorrow, so let's hope that tomorrow we'll have a new lease of life. Tomorrow is a question mark." Lemerre after quarter-final defeat with Tunisia in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations 2008.

"It's not the end of the world. It won't be the first time you've failed to qualify for a World Cup or African Nations Cup." Lemerre after Tunisia went down to a 2-1 defeat against Burkina Faso.

"I can look you all in the eye and say: I gave you a shirt and a number, now you have to do it justice. [Mikael] Silvestre, I gave you a shirt and a number, you have to do it justice. Same goes for [Lilian] Thuram. I gave you a shirt and a number, you have to do it justice. Same goes for Philippe [Christanval], same again for Zizou. I gave you a shirt and a number, you have to do it justice..." Lemerre ahead of his last match as manager of Les Bleus against Denmark in 2002.