Olivier Giroud will go down as one of the Premier League’s great strikers.
Former Arsenal and Chelsea centre forward Giroud, 35, got 90 goals in 255 games which puts him above Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernando Torres, Eden Hazard and Dennis Bergkamp in the all time scorers list.
But, strangely, Giroud does not always get the respect his remarkable career deserves even though he won the World Cup with France, Champions League with Chelsea and three FA Cups with Arsenal.
In fact, in each of his six summers at Arsenal, there was always talk of an upgrade because supposedly Giroud was not good enough to take them to the next level even though he reached the top of the game and his old club did not.
“Of course it hurts. I’m a human being, a person with emotions and the most important thing is not to pay attention to what people say on social media,” said Giroud.
“But my record? That’s not bad! I’m very happy with that. The story of my life has been people asking if I think I was a bit underrated. I think it’s also partly because I’m not a centre forward with the skills who the youngsters dream about.
“But I think the most important thing is to be very efficient because as a striker you are judged on your statistics, how many goals you score, I’m happy to do the pressing that others don’t do and the s*** that others don’t want to do. But it’s so important to me.
“But as a striker, you will always be judged on the stats and when I look back, I tell myself that I am so thankful to God that I’m on the pitch to enjoy my career, he’s always alongside me to help me to make the right decisions.
“I’ve won so many things in my career that I could never have imagined when I started. When I look back, I am very proud.”
Giroud’s new book is entitled Always Believe and it is fitting because it reveals his faith, how being a Christian gave him faith on the pitch and also to never give up when others doubt you.
His career is littered with setbacks, dumped by his first club Grenoble for not being good enough to leaving both Arsenal and Chelsea to chase more game time to play for France.
Giroud left Arsenal after six years in January 2018 for Chelsea, won the FA Cup and did enough to get his place in France’s World Cup squad and they won the trophy just two years after losing the Euros final on home soil.
He recognises the symmetry with England losing the Euros three months ago and now going for glory in Qatar next year. Paul Pogba gave the France team a pre-final team talk, telling them they could not suffer the heartbreak of the Euros again.
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“That was part of our success because we had to remember the pain we had to lose the final against Portugal,” said Giroud. “It helped us to remember never to suffer that moment again.
“I couldn’t be happier than to come back win the World Cup. You always have to learn from this painful moments. I loved the sentence of Nelson Mandela when he said: ‘Don’t judge me about my success, judge me on how many times I got back up again.’
“That was the best reaction we could show. You need to use those motivations to make them better days afterwards.”
It was more words from another ex-team mate, Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger, which stuck with him after he won the World Cup as a message to all those who doubted him.
Rudiger told him: “Olivier, 2018 World Cup winner. No-one can ever take that away from you.”
Giroud added: “I feel blessed because you are on top of the world as a player when you win the World Cup. It’s the best feeling you can ever have as a player.
“When you get titles, the World Cup, it helps your confidence and helps you believe. I’m never overconfident and I have a personality which makes sure I keep my feet on the ground. But maybe other people saw me differently after that.”
Always Believe by Olivier Giroud, out now from Pitch Publishing, priced £19.99.