During one of the 90 stops on the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour, former FIFA World Cup™ champion and FIFA ambassador, Christian Karembeu, took some time off in Algeria to connect with the fans on Facebook and answer a few of their questions.
Here’s what he had to say:
When did you start playing Football? #trophy
Like any child, I started very early with balls made of leaves, and then balls made of paper, and then plastic balls. I played with my schoolmates at the beginning, with the kids from the different tribes. When I was invited by the FC Nantes, this is when I got to play with real leather balls.
What was it like when the whistle went and you were crowned world champions? #trophy
It was so intense because knowing that we were already leading 3-0, of course we were expecting the final whistle to happen at any time. And when it finally happened, it was a dream come true, we just cheered all together, congratulated each other, it was the first time, it was unique and we were proud to give that to the French Nation, to our families. When they gave us the Trophy, we were already so happy to win the competition, but the Trophy in our hands was unbelievable because nobody could imagine that. From my side, I was thinking of what I had achieved, the long way from my country New Caledonia to Nantes, and then until holding this Trophy.
I invited my whole family to see the competition, they travelled with me all the way, and I was very proud to share it with them.
How did you find living in Middlesbrough after living in Madrid? #trophy
It was a great experience in England. I appreciated my time there. It was a great moment to challenge myself in the Premier league. When I signed there, it was also because of their facilities, they are amongst the best in Europe.
You have played in 4 of the top European leagues, which one was your favourite one and why? #trophy
All of them are my favourite ones. I believe that the level always changes depending on the League. I was in France and moved to Italy because the Football culture was really strong then. After that I moved to Spain, because I knew the pressure to keep up with the level of Football was present there. Afterwards, I moved to England, where at the time, I believe they had the strongest level of football.
Finally I chose Olympiakos because I wanted to have a new challenge in the Champions League.
How do you feel holding up the FIFA WC #trophy again?
I feel like a child again, with many dreams and hopes that the FIFA World Cup could inspire many other generations.
If you were still a player and had the chance to play for New Caledonia, the place of your birth, would you do it? #trophy
I would love to. At the time when I started to play football the New Caledonian Federation did not exist yet. It was officially affiliated as a FIFA member association in 2004.
It would be a great pleasure to share my experience with the new generations. We also have very talented players who deserve to be seen and play on a large stage, like Europe for example. We are setting up better structures, in order to approach the qualifiers better. Unfortunately there will be no representation from Oceania in the next FIFA World Cup as Mexico bet New Zealand in the qualifying play-offs.
Hi Christian, the development of football in the Pacific islands is something you have been very supportive and vocal about. What progress if any has been made? What is your vision? #trophy
It’s a great passion because I feel close to my homeland and region. For sure we need more facilities, and forums to express our needs and be able create a very high-level competition. I believe that we need to carry on and congratulate all the federations for the progress they have made. We need to be a strong Confederation.
We can create a football equivalent of a team that is as equally big, strong and internationally recognized as the New Zealand All Blacks, I believe we have the ability to do that, we only need good organization and hopefully we will make it a reality.
Carlos González C:
What do you think is the biggest difference between soccer when you won the world cup and in the present? #trophy
Already in 1998 there was a big revolution. Multimedia and TV rights brought in lots of income and revenue for Football. The good thing about media is that we can follow every championship, any players, all around the world.
Nowadays, what has changed is the attitude of the players. Our dream was to become professional football players. Now the young boys want to be stars, because football can give them this opportunity. Of course they can dream to become stars, but they have to know that it’s a long road, and there are some stages they need to respect. Those stages will help give them structure and discipline, and eventually guide them to become great players, but even more importantly, great human beings. Discipline is very important, same for respect, in order to ensure a long lasting great career.
JîjîTà Bic ChînOuîà:
What do you know about Algeria? #trophy
It’s a country I really love, I have friends here. I know the national coach very well, as well as some players like Medjani, Djibour, Slimani, Feghouli or Yebda. I think the old Algiers has very nice architecture, the coasts are beautiful, and life in Algiers is dynamic, food is great, agriculture is very healthy, it’s a country where I feel good.
How do you feel about Brazilian legends Neymar and Pele? #trophy
If Pele is the King; Neymar is the prince. That says it all for me.
Ronaldo or Messi? #trophy
I don’t really like to compare. Both are top players, and deserve to be congratulated. We shouldn’t forget that there are many other young players emerging, like Neymar for example, and many others. It would be like reducing Football to only the Spanish Liga, when we have also Suarez in Liverpool, Chicharito in Manchester United, Özil in Arsenal, Ribery, Muller or Lewandoski in Germany.
What do you feel now? #trophy
I’m proud to be part of the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour because I’m sharing my experiences with people all over the world and hopefully bringing hope and joy. We are using Football as a tool of peace, social integration and education.