Former Blackburn defender Gael Givet has lifted the lid on one of the motivational techniques used by erstwhile manager Sam Allardyce at the club.
Rovers were still in the Premier League when France international defender Givet spent four years at Ewood Park from 2009-2013.
Allardyce was the manager who took him to England from Marseille but had a rather unusual way of trying to get the players fired up for a 2010 Premier League match against Manchester United.
“We had warmed up and we went back to the dressing room,” Givet reminisced to L’Equipe . “While we were putting on our shin guards, he said: ‘Guys, wait!’ He put down a projector and showed us a montage of the films ‘Gladiator’ and ‘300’. In short, warriors with swords.
“We were all in the dressing room going: ‘Ahhhh!’ [he said mimicking a soldier with a sword]
“After 30 minutes, we were 3-0 down. We lost 7-1.
“After the match, we were all laughing. The warriors had completely passed us by.”
Givet was a member of the France 2006 squad that reached the final of the World Cup only to lose to Italy on penalties.
Like Vikash Dhorasoo, who made a film about feeling like an outsider in the squad, Givet did not play a single minute.
“I’d get up every morning and go to training, and I almost wondered what I was doing there,” he admitted. “There were only stars in the squad: Zinedine Zidane, Patrick Vieira, Claude Makelele…
“I’m very shy. It was hard for me. But it was exceptional, a great experience.
“For two months, I didn’t open my mouth much. If I was there, though, it’s because I played some good seasons, and played in the qualifying. But I found myself with Lilian Thuram, my idol, and training with Zidane every day. It was weird.”
Furthermore, Givet was not necessarily keen on being called in the one moment he might have been required.
“Against Spain in the quarter-finals, I think William Gallas had a problem,” he recalled. “Coach Raymond Domenech shouted on me: ‘Go Gael! Go get warm.’
“In my head, it was weird. It was 2-1. My heart was beginning to get faster. Then you say to yourself: ‘F***!’ You don’t know if you want to go on or not. It’s a strange feeling.
“You train and play to experience matches like that, and at the moment, the feeling that comes to you is apprehension.
“But I didn’t get on and we won 3-1.”