'Dropping stars was tough' | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 30, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 30, 2008

UEFA Euro 2008 Austria-Switzerland

'Dropping stars was tough'

French players Franck Ribery (L), Karim Benzema (C) and Thierry Henry (R) jog during a training session in Tignes on Wednesday.Photo: AFP

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France coach Raymond Domenech admitted the toughest thing for him ahead of the Euro finals had been to drop seven men from his initial squad and he was still suffering from the aftermath.
"I'm not here to explain why. I'm still too emotional. I've experienced the toughest time of my career as coach," said Domenech at the team's national training centre.
"There are moments when, even though the emotional bonds are there, the professional side must take precedence."
"Seven left and 23 stayed. I am still feeling the emotion."
Sure that the unlucky seven would want to hear their fate individually rather than before the group Domenech went to each.
"I told the group that I would knock on their doors and the decision would be waiting for them. It was difficult and heavy, with lots of emotion," Domenech said.
The chosen 23 reacted "as I had hoped, with the best interests of the squad at heart.
"I wanted the rest of the players to be in the hall of the hotel to give their support to the players who were leaving."
"It was a real group moment. The seven did not slink out."
Domenech, who had already made clear his distaste for Juventus striker and 1998 World Cup winner David Trezeguet by dismissing his claims to a place in the 23 despite the veteran's record, also omitted Marseille's former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse and Paris Saint-Germain keeper Mickael Landreau.
For Cisse it was the third successive time he has missed out on a major tournament.
Domenech, who included six Premiership players for next month's championships, also left out Julien Escude, Philippe Mexes, Alou Diarra, who played in the 2006 World Cup final, and two of the young stars Mathieu Flamini, who recently signed for AC Milan from Arsenal, and Hatem Ben Arfa.
Cisse did himself no favours with a lowkey performance in France's warm-up friendly against Ecuador on Tuesday. He was booed by the crowd after missing a header.
His omission will be all the harder to take as he also missed the 2006 World Cup after breaking his leg in a friendly on the eve of France's departure for Germany when bang in form and the Euro 2004 through suspension after a punch up.
Newcomer Bafetimbi Gomis, a striker with St Etienne striker, was a surprise inclusion with the likes of Cisse and Trezeguet missing out but the 22-year-old youngster showed his mettle with both goals on his debut in Tuesday's win over Ecuador.
Domenech will have to stand firmly by his convictions as France have an awkward Group C, comprising World Cup final conquerors Italy, 1988 champions The Netherlands and Romania.
Domenech said on Wednesday he was still getting over his shaping of the final squad.
"A stage has been vaulted but I think it will take some hours yet to get over it, It's difficult for me and still more so for the players and that reinforced what I felt."
He added the seven left off -- they were given a helicopter out of the training camp to avoid having to run a media gauntlet -- would nonetheless remain on standby.
"We can call them at a day's notice -- they are ready if need be."
"Meanwhile the other 23 have a responsibility towards the seven who have left."

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