One heck of a right back for both club and country, Willy Sagnol was a true professional. It’s a shame that his Achilles heel was infact his Achilles heel, that eventually saw him retire early.
Sagnol started his professional career at Saint Etienne in 1995, playing 10 times that season, before becoming a regular the next season, appearing in the league 36 times. His performances that season, secured a move to newly crowned Ligue 1 Champions AS Monaco. In moving to Monaco, Sagnol got his chance to test his abilities in the Champions League. All in all Sagnol spent three seasons at Monaco winning two Trophees des Champions and in his final season the Ligue 1.
Bundesliga comes calling.
Come the summer of 2000, clubs from around Europe began sniffing around the young right back. Bayern Munich were the club that managed to secure his signing, and Sagnol moved across the border and into Bavaria. It didn’t take long for Sagnol to become a regular fixture at right back for Bayern, also on occasion being asked to play as an attacking wing back. His first season with Bayern ended in great success, winning both the Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League. Sagnol would go on to win plenty more trophies with the German giants, including another four Bundesliga titles, four DFB-Pokals, two LIGA Pokals and a Intercontinental Cup.
It was during the year of 2000, that Sagnol made his debut for the French National squad. Initially he found it difficult to displace stalwart Lillian Thuram at right back. He spent a lot of time sitting on the bench for Les Bleus, until Lillian Thuram moved into centre back. Sagnol did win two tournaments with France, both Confederations Cups, and was a runner-up in the infamous 2006 World Cup Final, mainly rememebered for the Zidane/Materazzi incident.
Sagnol eventually retired in 2009 because of a continuous Achilles heel injury. It drew to a premature close a very successful end to a career for the man from Saint-Etienne
Sagnol (left) up against Spain’s Fernando Torres at the 2006 World Cup in Germany