Djibril Cisse was marked out for success from an early age, graduating from the esteemed youth set-up at Auxerre and going on to tear apart Ligue 1 defences before earning a big-money move to Liverpool in 2004. The highlight of the striker's career arrived at Anfield as he helped the Reds win the Champions League in 2005, with victory over AC Milan in Istanbul which has been dubbed the greatest ever Champions League final.
Cisse left Liverpool, first on loan, in 2006 and throughout his career has never been short of offers, having played for a whole host of clubs including French powerhouses Marseille, Greek giants Panathinaikos, Italian outfit Lazio and Queens Park Rangers. The Frenchman has often been struck by horror injuries which, while he has recovered from his setbacks, may have cost him the chance to cement the legendary status in the game his ability pointed to.
Currently a free agent, Cisse is plotting his next move. Inside Futbol sent John Georgopoulos to exclusively interview the striker as he put into practice his other love, working as a DJ in Athens and on Mykonos island.
Inside Futbol (IF): People are unsure about your retirement plans. What are you going to do next season?
Djibril Cisse (DC): Ι signed with a club on the island Reunion (Saint-Pierroise FC) for a friend of mine, only for five games. Then I have a programme for a TV show in France. Because of my hip I need to take a bit of time off, so I’m going to do something a bit different and then I hope to get back into football. Maybe in January.
IF: Do you feel a little bitter because you didn’t return to Panathinaikos?
DC: Yeah, a little bit because I tried to contact the coach and the president a few times without any answer. It’s sad, but I am not going to cry about it. I think it’s a sad situation because everybody could be happy. They are the guys who decide what’s going to happen to the club. It’s up to them.
IF: Did you feel any regret about the fact that you chose Al-Gharafa over Panathinaikos in January 2013?
DC: People have to stop with this story because it is annoying me. That wasn’t the case – I could in fact not come back to Greece. We had tax problems because the club hadn’t paid although they were supposed to. So tax was the real reason, not me choosing Al-Gharafa over Panathinaikos. That wasn't not the case. They have to stop talking rubbish and be polite. If this problem hadn’t been there then of course I would have come back. I didn’t want to return to Greece and be put in jail, that was the situation.
IF: What do you think about Panathinaikos’ big signing Michael Essien?
DC: He is a friend of mine. The fans will love him. I know him, I know how good he is, I know what he can give for the club. He is a big asset for Panathinaikos.
IF: How do you want football fans to remember you when you decide to retire?
DC: Αs a fighter and as someone who never gave up and gave everything he had for the club.
IF: You joined Liverpool just as Gerard Houllier was leaving. Were you unhappy he’d put the deal in place for you but wasn’t at Anfield when you arrived? Any second thoughts on the move?
DC: Unhappy no, surprised yes. Shocked, but at the end of the season we won the Champions League, so it was a bad thing for a good thing.
IF: Did you have other options apart from Liverpool? Any offers which were tempting?
DC: I had proposals from Real Madrid and Juventus. I spoke to Zinedine Zidane at the time, but I had already decided to join Liverpool, so it was difficult for me.
IF: You returned from injury to win the Champions League with Liverpool. Was that the best moment in your career?
DC: Υes, it was. Without a doubt it was the best.
IF: Steven Gerrard finished his time at Liverpool this year. What are your memories of Gerrard? Where does he rank in the list of the best players you have played with?
DC: Υes, Steven Gerrard was a leader, in this position he was the best.
IF: How was your experience working under Rafael Benitez? How does he rate in the list of coaches you’ve worked with?
DC: He's a good coach, very clever, tactically really good and really serious doing his job, analysing and looking for new things, new tactics and really good at adapting.
IF: You’ve played your football in France, England, Greece, Italy, Qatar and Russia. Which country saw the best of you and which holds the fondest memories for you?
DC: It has to be Greece. The relationship with the fans here is special. I have never had this kind of bond with the fans.
IF: Are you happy being called Lord of the Manor of Frodsham? Where do you call home?
DC: I was, I am not anymore. I’m divorced now, so I’m not living there.
IF: Your son Cassius signed for Crewe Alexandra last year. Is he still at Crewe and do you want him to follow in your footsteps?
DC: Yes, of course, but he is going to sign for big clubs soon and I’m happy for him.
IF: It was said he turned down Manchester United and Liverpool for Crewe. Is this true and why did he choose Crewe?
DC: Yes, because he wants – and I especially want him – to learn and have fun first before it gets serious. So he is playing and having fun. He will go to a big club but he is still a kid.
IF: What type of player is Cassius? Can you see some of yourself in his play?
DC: Yeah, he is like me. Fast, strong, scoring goals.