Gaël Clichy (born 26 July 1985) is a French footballer who currently plays as a full back for Arsenal in the English Premier League.
Biography Early career
Clichy grew up in the city of Toulouse, France. In his early years, after climbing over a metal fence, a ring he was wearing got caught and tore his finger off. He had a seven-hour operation to sew it back on, but during the operation, his heart stopped beating due to a problem with his lungs. After 15 seconds, it restarted and, thankfully, he recovered. Doctors described it as a "miracle" that Clichy survived. His mother had the resources to help him recover after years of experience in medical school as a nurse.
When AS Cannes were relegated to the French Third Division, Arsène Wenger persuaded Clichy's parents to let him join Arsenal.
After Ashley Cole suffered a fractured foot in October 2005, it seemed that Clichy would earn some valuable first-team action during Cole's time out; indeed, with rumours linking Cole with a transfer to Spain, it seemed that Clichy could make a strong case for continual first-team action.
Clichy returned to first team action on 25 April 2006 in a Champions League semi-final against Villarreal CF, and came on as a substitute for the injured Mathieu Flamini. Clichy suffered a re-occurrence of his injury and missed the end of the season including the Champions League Final, and would not return to the first team until 14 October 2006.
When Cole left for Chelsea in August 2006, Clichy became the first choice left-back at Arsenal. As Cole's understudy, Clichy made 62 appearances (including 39 in the league) for Arsenal in three seasons. In the season which followed Cole's departure, Clichy made 27 league appearances in a total of 40, and has since become Arsenal's first-choice left back. In the 2007–08 season, Clichy was selected in the PFA Team of the Year as left back. This fine form was rewarded on 20 June 2008, when he signed a new "long-term" contract. He came in second in the Arsenal fans' poll for Player of the Season. He captained Arsenal for the first time against Barnet in Arsenal's first pre-season game of 2008–09.
Clichy scored his first goal for Arsenal on 1 November 2008, with a late goal against Stoke City, as Arsenal went down 2–1. After being sidelined for several weeks, it was announced in early May that Clichy would miss the remainder of the 2008–09 season due to a back injury.
In 2007, he was called up for the France national squad. He was called up again in January 2008, for the French game against Spain, and 5 February 2008, he was called in a B-squad friendly against the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Clichy made his senior international debut for France on 10 September 2008 in their 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Serbia.
Clichy - I'm feeling better with every game
Gael Clichy is feeling better with every game after getting his second 'pre-season' out of the way.
The Frenchman was sidelined for almost three months with a back injury and took time to find his rhythm when he returned to first-team action in January. Clichy was criticised in some quarters but he is gradually rediscovering his best form and was one of Arsenal's stand-out players at Barcelona on Tuesday night.
Clichy is relieved he is over his blip but he's not surprised his form deserted him at the start of the year. As the left-back points out, his injury lay-off was longer than a close-season break.
"Even if you’ve been out for four months, people expect you to do well when you’re back on the pitch and don’t want any excuses," Clichy told the Official Matchday Programme.
"But that kind of absence is still longer than, for example, our summer break - and we know that after the summer holidays you need a month and a half to get fit and sharp. Pre-season friendlies and training are not for nothing!
"So the same applies here, I think – it’s never easy to come back and be thrown straight into big games, but I wasn’t worried because I knew I needed time.
"On the other hand, I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to play as well as I can – but I’m feeling better game after game and I hope that people who rightly said I wasn’t playing well earlier on can see that I’m improving now.
"My game is based on fitness and if I’m sharp I can do really well – I’m feeling fresh and recovering quite well between the games, so I’m sure I can perform even better. There aren’t many games to go now and I want to show that I can deliver for Arsenal."
This interview first appeared in the Official Matchday Programme. You can subscribe to the Matchday Programme by calling 08700 20 20 20.
The Premier League will not have a representative in the Semi-Finals of the Champions League for the first time in seven years after Arsenal and Manchester United were eliminated from the competition in midweek.
This year’s European champions will come instead from Spain, France, Germany or Italy – countries whose top-flight clubs take a rest at the turn of the year.
Clichy acknowledges that Arsenal were beaten fair and square by an outstanding Barcelona side in their Quarter-Final but he insists that the fatigue factor leaves English clubs at a disadvantage in the latter stages of the season.
“I think it is a blow for English football [not to have a representative in the Champions League] but at the same time we are the only championship in Europe who are not having a rest during Christmas,” Clichy told Arsenal.com.
“I don’t want to hide behind anything but when you are having two weeks off during Christmas you have time to recover, but we are playing game after game every three days and so of course you are going to get injuries.
“If you look at the Barcelona game we had six or seven players out who could have been in the starting XI. That shows you that at the end of the season whether you are Chelsea, Manchester United or Arsenal, English football suffers a little bit because we played so many games.
“We like playing on Boxing Day but it can be difficult.”
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