Olivier Giroud has offered some background on failed moves and how he ended up at AC Milan rather than Inter or even Everton.
Giroud joined Milan from Chelsea during the summer transfer window having become a Champions League winner, the latest step in a decorated career which also includes having won the World Cup in 2018 with France.
Nonetheless, Giroud was not called up for the Nations League final four over the current international break as Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappé stole the show instead by firing them to a tournament win, while the 35-year-old continues his recovery from back pain and Covid-19 which he recovered from in recent weeks.
Giroud has given an interview to The Guardian during which he speaks about his international ambitions and failed moves of the past that have led him down a path towards the Rossoneri.
“I don’t think I will ever say I’m retiring from international duty. If the manager needs me, I will go. I never asked Frank Lampard to play when I was at Chelsea, for example. When I wasn’t playing, I was frustrated but I just carried on doing my best and trying to help the team reach the target,” he began.
“When I was supposed to leave [a transfer to Internazionale was lined up in January 2020], I told him: ‘Look, you’re not playing me, I’m third choice, so let me go.’ But he said he would give me a chance. He gave me that chance and I did my job on the pitch, scored eight goals in 11 matches and helped the team to qualify for the Champions League.”
“Now it’s the same with the national team. It’s simply that if the manager needs me, he will call me; if not, he won’t. I am 100% focused on Milan and being decisive and effective for my club. Let’s see what happens.
“Also, apparently N’Golo Kanté and I can have medals for the Nations League because we were heavily involved in the qualifiers. So that’s a nice addition to my roll of honour, isn’t it?”
Giroud is regarded as a leader and a beacon of consistency wherever he goes, which is exactly why Milan wanted to go out and sign him.
“I left so many friends at Arsenal and Chelsea and when I meet people in the street and they say ‘thank you for what you achieved, we miss you’, it makes you feel like you’ve earned people’s respect,” Giroud said.
“When people criticise you, most of the time it’s behind a computer or a social media account. I don’t look at much of what is said about me. I know when I’ve played well and when I’m not doing well.
“When you read things, you need to know what to take out of the message: the most important thing is to pick up positive things you can do, not to pay too much attention to the negative.”
On what happened at the Euros, he added: “Ah, what happened? We really wanted to win, especially after losing the Euro 2016 final at home to Portugal, which was very painful. We had the strongest team on paper.
“We just lacked maybe a little bit of a cool head against Switzerland. I don’t really know but when you are leading 3-1 with 10 minutes to go it cannot happen that you concede two goals and lose on penalties. But then, that’s the beauty of football, everyone can beat the best team in the world. Nothing is written in advance.”
Giroud also spoke on the influence of his religion on his career, and revealed how it has influenced some of the decisions he has made in the past.
“I believe in the story of Jesus in the Bible and that it is to bring us more humility. Suffering is a basic part of life. It builds your personality as a human being. That is where my mental strength comes from,” he said.
“I have always had to face difficulties, like everyone in life. Nothing is easy in life, you have to grab it and get out of your comfort zone. My faith helped me every single day, particularly when I had to make big decisions.
“For example, you can understand from my book why I didn’t go to Everton and why I stayed at Chelsea instead of signing for Inter. One thing I will tell you is God has got a plan for every single person on Earth. We make our path and the Lord sets the pace.”
In his book he recalls how he decided not to go to Everton or Inter after one of his mother’s friends, named Nicole, got in touch both times to warm him about dreams she had suggesting it would be a bad idea.
“She said: ‘You will have to trust God regarding your future’ and there was a kind of prediction that I would not get into the national team this time. So many things that turned out to be true, I believe those are signs from God in heaven.”