Gael Clichy hails from Toulouse originally, but it was in the youth ranks at Cannes that he first got to grips with the game, following in the footsteps of fellow Cannes graduates Zinedine Zidane, Johan Micoud and Patrick Vieira. It was also with the Mediterranean club that he became a left-footed player, despite being naturally right-handed, and his impressive development did not go unnoticed by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who brought him to north London in 2003. His first three years with the Gunners were spent in the shadows of regular left-back Ashley Cole, but he nonetheless made 12 appearances in 2003/04 to become the youngest-ever player to claim a Premier League winner’s medal.
Cole’s exit in August 2006 then allowed Clichy to become a fixture in the Gunners’ rearguard, and although Wenger’s charges have failed to lift a trophy since the FA Cup in 2005, he has long established himself as one of the finest left-backs in the English elite. Indeed, his major rivals for that accolade are his Arsenal predecessor and Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, who also stands in Clichy’s way in the France team.
First called up on an international long-list in autumn 2007, he earned a maiden squad berth in January 2008 but had to wait a number of months before making his playing debut for Les Bleus. That came in a 2010 FIFA World Cup™ qualifier against Serbia in September 2008, which France won 2-1, and that proved the first of three caps before Clichy was named in Raymond Domenech’s 23-man party for South Africa.