Search icon


17th Sep 2016

Christophe Dugarry went to extreme measures to escape Louis van Gaal “hell” at Barcelona

"I had to leave at any cost"

Robert Redmond

Christophe Dugarry really, really didn’t like playing under Louis van Gaal.

The former Birmingham forward, who won the World Cup and the European Championships with France, had an unhappy spell at Barcelona during the 1997/98 season.

Dugarry played just seven games at the Catalan club, and found it difficult under the eccentric Van Gaal. He has claimed that he became so unhappy at the club, he even pretended to cry in order to force through a move.

Robert Lee of Newcastle and Christophe Dugarry of Barcelona

The striker was desperate to get away and find first-team football ahead of the World Cup, and pleaded with Van Gaal to be allowed leave. The reaction of the former Manchester United manager drove Dugarry to despair.

“I spent six months asking myself what I was doing there. It was surreal,” Dugarry told SFR Sport.

“The worst thing was when I went to his office to ask to leave. I had to leave at any cost, and what’s more, [the then France coach Aime] Jacquet had said we had to be first-choice at our clubs on the first day of 1998. I pretended to cry, saying ‘I can’t take anymore, I have to leave.’

“And he just looked at me and said: ‘No, you can’t leave. I believe in you.’ What? You believe in me and you make me play as a defensive midfielder? It was a horrible six months. I went through hell.”

Dugarry would escape Van Gaal mid-way through that season by joining Marseille. The Dutchman’s critical approach certainly didn’t have the desired effect on Dugarry.

“One time, we were in the dressing room. He took water bottles to mark out his tactics. He’d marked down on a sheet: ‘In the 23rd-minute, you lost this ball. In the 48th-minute, you lost the ball again. And in the 53rd-minute, you lost another ball. Why did you do that?’ And I had to answer.”

Vintage Van Gaal.

Read more from SportsJOE:


Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required