With the Africa Cup of Nations currently underway, many clubs are having to do without some of their best players, much to their managers’ dismay.
Jürgen Klopp has already got himself in hot water with some of his comments regarding the competition, but with so many footballers proud to represent their countries, few can stand in their way.
That, however, didn’t stop Tottenham from trying to do so back when Frédéric Kanouté was still in their ranks, as recalled by the player himself in an interview with RMC Sport in France.
The now former striker, who spent two years at Spurs between 2003 and 2005, signed for the London side from West Ham, having only featured for France’s youth teams up until that point.
The rules at the time were different to now, meaning that you couldn’t simply swap national team, but that all changed in 2004.
That’s when FIFA started to allow players to play for another country unless they had already featured in an official game for the first-team, rendering youth team caps ‘non-official’.
Kanouté, as he puts it, then took the ‘not so easy decision’ to represent Mali instead of France, despite his six France U21 caps, which didn’t go down well at Tottenham when he wanted to head off to the Africa Cup of Nations.
He said: “Imagine the reaction from my club at that time, and I had to explain to them… I had to be rather firm too, because they really tried everything to keep me from going. I had a meeting with the manager, who brought me to his office. He tried everything, but I told him I would be going”.