Ginola - Les Bleus look strong

England face tough opener,say former Magpies star

Last Updated: 19/05/12 12:35pm

David Ginola says England are in for a difficult opening game against France at the European Championships this summer.

"When you're playing for your country you're not playing anymore for yourself, you're playing for the people and this is what the youngest [players] should realise when they wear the national shirt."

David Ginola

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Ginola, 45, spent much of his career plying his trade in England and admits he will have split loyalties when his adoptive home and the country of his birth go head-to-head.

But the former Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur star believes the England team - with new manager Roy Hodgson in charge - possess the ability to beat any team in world football on their day.

"I love England, I live in England, but I love my country so obviously it will be difficult for me to pick one of the teams to win this first game," he told Soccer AM.

"But France look pretty strong at the moment, especially if (Karim) Benzema plays at the same kind of level he has played this season with Real Madrid.

"But England always give everything to win something and they've got a new manager. He's the kind of guy that can probably do something, but it's up to the lads out there. If they want to go out there and play as a team together, they can beat any team."

Controversy

Capped 17 times by France, the former Paris Saint-Germain winger will no doubt have featured more regularly for his country had he not fallen out with national team boss Gerard Houllier over their failure to qualify for the 1994 World Cup.

His countrymen were involved in more controversy two years ago in South Africa when their World Cup campaign was thrown into disarray after the entire squad refused to train in protest against Nicolas Anelka's expulsion from the squad.

But Ginola believes it's important that players recognise they are not simply representing themselves when they put on the national team's colours.

"What happened in South Africa in 2010 was pretty damaging for the whole country and French football," he said.

"I guess they realised that there was something wrong, something wrong in terms of being a professional. Something that you don't do when you're being responsible.

"When you're playing for your country you're not playing anymore for yourself, you're playing for the people and this is what the youngest [players] should realise when they wear the national shirt."

Magpies

Brought to England by Kevin Keegan in 1995, Ginola spent two years at Newcastle as the Magpies twice went close to winning the Premier League, only to be pipped by Manchester United on both occasions.

The current crop of players on Tyneside have been lauded this season after narrowly missing out on Champions League qualification, and the man who brought smiles to the faces of Geordie public with his Gallic flair believes Alan Pardew deserves great credit for getting his side to play the sort of attacking football which Newcastle fans crave.

"It's very, very impressive to see Newcastle right there playing great football," he said.

"We were playing this football many, many years ago with great players; (Peter) Beardsley, (Alan) Shearer, (Les) Ferdinand, Rob Lee, (Faustino) Asprilla; it was great football.

"We could score goals for fun, there was entertainment and results at the end were the key of the (Kevin) Keegan team.

"To see Pardew doing this job right now is very important to the Geordies because they've been waiting for this moment for a long time right now.

"I was in Newcastle a few weeks ago and they're so proud of what the team achieved this season in terms of the position they finished in the league and there's expectation for the future and this is what is important for a fan - just expecting your team to be successful.

"I guess this is what Newcastle will be in the future and they've got some very good French players and I'm really pleased to see (Hatem) Ben Arfa comeback from what was a very bad injury."