Anelka Misunderstood Web Review: Anelka, the striker who was sold a dummy!

Updated: 06 August, 2020 08:18 IST | Ashwin Ferro | Mumbai

Anelka Misunderstood covers Anelka's globetrotting career from the suburbs of Paris to the suburbs of Mumbai (for Mumbai City FC in the India Super League).

Anelka Misunderstood
Anelka Misunderstood

Anelka Misunderstood
On: Netflix
Director: Eric Hannezoi
Rating: Rating

The career of Nicholas Anelka, arguably France's most enigmatic striker, is defined by two controversial incidents. The first, when he allegedly abused France manager Raymond Domenech and was sent home during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The second was about being labeled anti-Semitic for his quenelle salute celebrating a goal for the English club, West Brom in 2013.

On Anelka: Misunderstood, a new Netflix documentary released on Wednesday, the stylish striker comes clean on both accounts.

That salute, he says, was aimed at the club's recently-sacked manager Steve Clarke, who took him off in his first match after 70 minutes, suggesting he was a failure. The public fed off the media frenzy, he reckons, just like in 2010. French newspaper L'Equipe claimed Anelka had abused Domenech in the locker room during half-time of the World Cup match against Mexico. The French Football Federation believed the newspaper and fired Anelka. However, eight years later, Domenech clarifies that Anelka had not abused him.

Interestingly, there's a 12-year history to that 10-second altercation between Anelka and Domenech. Just before the 1998 World Cup, a teenaged Anelka was dropped without explanation when the final squad was pruned from 28 to 22. Then, just before the 2002 World Cup, coach Jacques Santini tells Anelka that if he didn't pick him for France, it's because he doesn't know him. A furious Anelka refuses to play for France. In 2005, Anelka is then invited to play a friendly match for France against Costa Rica in his family's ancestral town of Martinique and even scores, but is not considered for the 2006 World Cup. 2010 was supposed to be his first and last World Cup as he had planned to retire thereafter.

The film covers Anelka's globetrotting career from the suburbs of Paris to the suburbs of Mumbai (for Mumbai City FC in the India Super League). Unfortunately for Mumbai City FC fans, the only Mumbai connection in the film is a blink-and-a-miss view of the iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and Anelka walking across a busy gully.

Watch the trailer of Nicolas Anelka starrer Anelka Misunderstood here

The film begins with Anelka's initiation at the Clairefontaine academy at just 13, before moving to Paris Saint-Germain at 16. At Arsenal thereafter, Arsene Wenger talks of how he helped a brattish Anelka reach English football heights. Next up, Real Madrid was a bed of nails as Anelka reveals on day one at training he had to vacate his dressing room seat because other players claimed it was theirs.

In one scene, Anelka, now settled in Dubai, cutely fires his son, Kais after a practice match, urging him to train hard to be a good footballer. However, a few scenes later, Anelka says he'd never want his kids to take up football as it's too tough.

It's these contradictions that sum up a striker, who effortlessly dodged some of the world's best goalkeepers, but was sold a dummy by the French Football Federation.

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First Published: 06 August, 2020 07:13 IST

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