Veteran midfielder Patrick Vieira said on Monday that he had been massively disappointed when France coach Raymond Domenech snubbed him for upcoming crucial 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifiers against Romania and Serbia.
The Inter Milan star, who was part of France's FIFA World Cup-winning squad in 1998, has not played in the French national side since a poor showing in a June friendly with Nigeria which brought the 33-year-old a 107th cap. He missed the 1-0 away win over the Faroe Islands on 12 August.
"Yes, it was a massive disappointment because it's true that physically and mentally I had prepared myself for these two matches," Vieira said. "It's been a disappointment but one that can be understood: compared to some players, I am perhaps less in form.
"I thought that with my experience I would have been part of this squad for these two matches, I felt as if I could have been able to bring something. But unfortunately the coach thought I wasn't suitable for the two games, even if we didn't speak about it."
Vieira said there had been "no call, no explanation. I received a missed call but unfortunately I was at training". Domenech instead left a text message on Vieira's mobile telephone, the midfielder told former France team-mate Bixente Lizarazu on RTL radio. "Unfortunately, I couldn't call him back because the squad list was announced afterwards, at 2pm."
Vieira insisted, however, that playing at the South Africa 2010 remained a goal. "My objective really is the World Cup," he said. "These are two important matches, a stage we have to get over and I'm convinced that the squad will succeed without me, but my goal remains the World Cup.
"It's difficult. I didn't make the simplest choice by staying at Milan but I believe in myself. The season still has a long way to go and I'm convinced I'll play." Vieira added that calling a halt to his illustrious career at season's end was a "possibility".
"It's something I'm thinking about. What's certain in football is that you never know what's going to happen. If at the end of my contract I have an attractive offer from a club in Europe with a tempting challenge, that could be interesting for me.
"But what I want to do today is to stop at the end of the season and go and try a new experience: why not the United States? I also think that I maybe no longer want to play at the highest level. What interests me could really be a life experience, and to go and discover football in the United States - if I was to continue playing."
But Vieira promised one more season at the highest level: "I hope to make the World Cup and after we'll see how it pans out. What's certain is that if tomorrow you receive a phone call from Barcelona, you no longer ask yourself the same questions."
Domenech did not completely close the door on Vieira when he unveiled his squad for the games against Romania and Serbia. "I always have hope - he is not finished, he is on the way back, but a little short of (match) fitness at the moment. However, I hope he will be back soon," Domenech said Thursday.