Anelka, emblem of contemporary France

This article is also available in: Italiano

Nicolas Anelka, whimsical player, out of the ordinary, from the suburbs of Paris to the conversion, from the titles to the quenelle. The story of a man who, willingly or unwillingly, embodies the many facets of contemporary France

Anelka at the PSG

Le Chesnay and the PSG, the first career step for Anelka

Nicolas Anelka was born in “Le Chesnay”, a suburb of Paris with a high immigration rate. Her parents are from Martinique, a French possession in the Caribbean. Martinique is part of that invisible France, no revolt, no celebrity famous enough to be told, the only few “success” cases will then become French in all respects, losing the opportunity to show their diversity. The story of the young Nicolas will be a continuous repetition of this situation. Wherever he went he left something, even if it was small. It is the secret desire to give voice to his people who animate him, to help the defenseless and to be able to contribute to their joys by leaving his stamp.

Little Nicolas chooses to show up for the first time in the suburbs of the French capital. Already at 16 he is considered an absolute talent, ready to become one of the protagonists of football. It is Anelka himself who chooses Paris as his first club. Perhaps what pushes him right on the banks of the Seine, rather than following the road that leads to Monaco inaugurated by a young Henry, is symbolic. Paris, the capital of a thousand peoples. What better place for a career in the center of the world?

At Psg Nicolas shows all his potential, physical striker but also fast and fast to adapt technically.

Could the greatest French coach in England let him get away?

Nicolas Anelka: the move from Arsenal and Real Madrid

The career of the Martinican seems to follow a precise path, almost knowing the possible destinations first and always choosing the most significant. In 1997 he moved to London, Gunners side. What other European capital could keep up with cosmopolitan Paris if not it? In the English capital Anelka begins to shine more and more intensely. Wenger gives him confidence, puts him in Wright’s place, Nicolas keeps his promises and scores one goal after another, becoming the last big star before Henry’s advent.

Anelka at the Arsenal

In 1999 it was Real Madrid that showed up at the door. The offer is 35 million, too many not to tempt Wenger who in the meantime has already set his eyes with the talent of Juve more and more is repeated in this story. Henry and Anelka, the 2 opposites who revolutionized France from the Caribbean. It would be nice, so it is not because the 2 will always meet as opponents, coming very close from playing together, but not enough. Nicolas will leave London with a great regret, that of not having recorded if not with his feet, but he wants more. He is not a type to be satisfied.

In Madrid the eyes are all for him. “L’enfant prodige”, “the future of world football”. However, the season will be below expectations, too few 4 goals in many appearances. You notice that something is wrong with him in Spain has lost his enthusiasm, the desire to fight on every ball. It is he himself who notices the change and understands himself. Nicolas understands for the first time that he needs the warmth of the people, not the fans. He is not like everyone else, a character to be admired at the stadium and that’s it. It is the new Fanon loaned to the world of football. The following season the PSG returns with an offer of 34 and a half million, Anelka will not miss it.

Anelka the return: Psg and Liverpool, the third step

The third step is perhaps the least incisive in the Frenchman’s career. A return to Paris that will disappoint expectations and a return to England that leaves no trace. Young Nicolas is desperate. He doesn’t know how to get out of this tunnel which seems to have blocked his career forever, preventing him from fulfilling his mission. Preventing him from doing what he feels predestined for. In total desperation he chooses to rely on his friends, those with whom he played as a child in Le Chesnay. They are the ones who give him the strength to go on, to illuminate him slowly. Anelka’s company comes from the Parisian suburbs. They are Africans, Arabs and Berbers, the peoples who, as for Fanon, will give them the strength to fight and get back on their feet. This time to complete his metamorphosis he chooses a team that shortly after will be purchased by sheikhs. The Manchester City.

Manchester City, Fenerbahce and the last step for the transformation of Nicolas Anelka

Many of the last great men completed their transformation with a spiritual change. Men of the caliber of Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X, who accepting this new direction have placed themselves in a different perspective than in the past. To better understand the world. To be reborn in a new light. The same path is that taken by Nicolas.

Anelka at Fenerbahce

When he arrives in Manchester he finds himself faced with a thousand problems, he, raised in the Parisian banlieu, catapulted into a new dimension. The first year in the English city will have this flavor, that of new difficulties to face in order to become great, this time, however, in the size that has been chosen. But the rebirth can be seen, it is evident. Anelka then also puts his own, 14 goals in the first year and 25 the second, numbers from star players, numbers from Nicolas Anelka.

However, he feels that there is still something missing, he wants to bring his symbol and his story to territories never seen before, unexplored. He intimately wants to involve a part of the people of football who in all these years has remained obscured by the great European football powers. For this reason, in 2005 he moved to Istanbul, a yellow-blue shore. In the Turkish club only 1 year will remain, the time to put his seal, to continue in the legend

Nicolas Anelka: Bolton, Chelsea and the last great seasons, the 5th step

After the season returns to England, at Bolton this time. 2 seasons of great level that bring him back to the Olympus of football. In 2008 the last heavy move, still in London, this time on the Blues side.

He has a special relationship with the capital, it is his home, from which he had reluctantly separated many years before. A long way before going home. In City Nicolas he returns to his early career levels. Both physically and mentally, the experience made in all these years of pilgrimage is reborn, they help it fly like never before, a show in the eyes, a particular light that illuminates the whole stadium. The Blues then gives him, is the color he is lucky enough to bring both in the national team and with the club, a way to remind everyone of how he is the symbol of modern France.


Anelka is the king of the world now. Wherever he looks, people admire and praise him. From the inhabitants of the shanty towns to the wealthy entrepreneurs of the city, the world is finally his, of the Fanon of football. This is precisely the moment when he feels he can take on a new challenge. He, who has already won in every team, is attracted by the biggest challenge, a new championship to be explored, in a distant country but which has always been a slave to the various powers that have followed. What better challenge for those who have already won everything?

China, Italy, Quenelle and India, Anelka’s final step

After Chealsea Nicolas’s career acquires outlines that are more suited to the legend than to a real footballer. In 2011 he moved to Shanghai Shenhua, after a quick parenthesis with a lot of title he arrived in Italy, Juventus side. At Juve he looks like a ghost, he plays little and badly, so much so that he appears as a simple and forgettable appearance. However, Nicolas still lacks a gesture. He is desperate for something to make his role public in the world.

The Quenelle

West Bromwich is the chance it has been waiting for. At the first presence he made his debut with Quenelle. A strange gesture, never seen in England, it seems an inverted fascist greeting, but it is a comfortable interpretation. It is his way of giving voice to the oppression of his people. The exploited, the least, the humiliated, the Palestinians and immigrants, all categories that Nicolas has always defended and promoted, an anti-Zionist gesture, taken by his friend Diuedonné. When he does, he thinks about all these things, about frustration with something he hasn’t been able to change, it’s a cold anger against everything he sees wrong in this world. It is the gesture he sought to end his career, something unique and strong, something from Anelka.

Nicolas’ last team is Mumbai City, a small parenthesis in India before abandoning football. From won or defeated, who knows, from icon for sure, for those who have been able to incorporate all the strengths and weaknesses of the new France, becoming an absolute reference point for all the French champions who have followed him, from Ben Arfa to Mahrez, all following in the footsteps of Nicolas Anelka.

Anelka at the Mumbay City

Do you want to follow in the footsteps of the legendary Ibn Battuta? You will find here how to do it. Follow us on our facebook page, Spotify, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, or on our Telegram channel. Any like, sharing or support is welcome and helps us to devote ourselves more and more to our passion: telling the Middle East.

Leave a Reply