Malbranque could continue

French midfielder insists he has not retired following St Etienne exit

Malbranque: Finds himself without a club but is hoping to play on

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Steed Malbranque claims he has not retired and has attempted to shed some light on his acrimonious departure from St Etienne.

The French midfielder has parted company with the Ligue 1 outfit just a month after agreeing a one-year contract.

Reports have suggested that the 31-year-old has taken the decision to hang up his boots, but he insists that is not the case.

He has refused to speculate on what his next move might be, but he is keen to start enjoying himself again after revealing that frustration led him to walk out on St Etienne.

Malbranque told L'Equipe: "I never said I was retiring. The club said that.

Change

"I decided not to talk until my contract had been cancelled. Now I can say that the reason I left was because I didn't have fun at training. I tried to be happy, but I couldn't. It was pointless going on like that for a year so I decided to stop. Are you surprised?

"Everyone said I should take the money, but I am not like that. I would have been a thief if I had stayed all season, played 10 matches and taken my money. I am willing to give my August wage packet back to the club."

Malbranque has hinted that he would be willing to consider a return to England, having previously turned out in the Premier League for Tottenham, Fulham and Sunderland.

He said: "Do I regret coming back to France? I have asked that question. England probably suited me better. Maybe it was too big a change.

"Will I play again? It is difficult to say what the future will hold. Maybe one day I play in France again, I don't know.

"I will make a decision based on the challenges involved, not money. I am in no rush and will set no deadline. At my age it is important to have fun."

Break

While Malbranque claims the decision to leave St Etienne was his, the club's coach has suggested that he grew tired of the midfielder's antics and moved to bring in replacements.

Christophe Galtier said: "I am surprised to hear Steed's words. The day before the Nancy game he came to see me and said he was not in the right frame of mind to play a match, he was questioning his ability to carry on playing.

"I gave him a three-day break to weigh up his options. He came back in a better mood but a few days later, before the game against Sochaux, he said the same thing.

"Last Friday his advisors came to me and said he was ready to rejoin the group, but by then we had signed (Max) Gradel and (Banel) Nicollita to replace him, so it wasn't possible."