With a career spanning over 20 years, Nicolas Anelka is one of most the iconic football players of his generation. He played for PSG, Chelsea and Real Madrid, just to name a few, and won the European championship with the French National team.
Now retired, he lives in Dubai with his family; Etiquette Arabia had the opportunity to sit with him and learn more about his Dubai adventure.
Why did you chose to settle in Dubai, you could have gone anywhere in the world?
I first came here in 2004 and I liked it. At the time I was still playing football and I decided to keep Dubai as an option for my post-football life. I had London, Paris and Miami in mind as well but I decided to stay in Dubai. Everything is available in Dubai, anything you can find in Miami, London or Paris is available in Dubai and on top of that it is sunny all year long.
I bought an apartment here 10 years ago and after discussing it with my wife and kids we chose to settle here in Dubai.
Now that you are not playing football anymore, what is your daily routine?
I wake up at the same time as my kids then I go train, mainly swimming. Later on I have lunch with my wife while waiting for the kids to come back from school. I either pick them up or they take the school bus. Once they’re back we spent time together.
We really live a simple life; it is the life I have always wanted. I played in different clubs in different countries and sometimes I had to leave my family behind. So now I decided to travel less and spend more time with my family.
Time flies and we can’t get it back.
You’re involved with the PSG Academy here in Dubai, do you think we’ll see young players from the region in international clubs in the future?
Everything is possible, there is talent everywhere. The school will have to bring the right coaches and handle this project as a long-term one. The most important thing is to give them the right training up until they are 13 years old, after that they should move to Europe to join clubs there.
There are more divisions and more teams to play against there. As a football player, the more you play the better you get and the key is to face the largest number of opponents possible.
Besides your involvement with the PSG Academy, do you have any professional projects in mind?
After 20 years in football, a lot of people talk to me about coaching. I am not really interested; I don’t think it fits me. I see myself more in the role of an advisor or this type of position within a club.
Coaching a football team is a complicated job; I’ve done it in China and India. I kind of knew it was going to be difficult and once I did it I realized it is a really tough job. It was a good experience and I have no regrets.
I am a very discreet person and I don’t like to be under the spotlight all the time, if I work again in football I would like to work with youth teams. That is what I enjoy doing, training and guiding kids as much as I can.
How does it feel to see your childhood friend Omar Sy working on big movies with the likes of Tom Hanks or Bradley Cooper?
I am very happy for him as we go way back, I remember his first radio shows on Radio Nova and today he’s making it in Hollywood. It is amazing and I am really happy for him.
He reached the top of French cinema with Intouchables and it was a bold move to go straight to Hollywood. He made it and it is well deserved.
What are your go-to destinations for family vacations?
Obviously the Antilles because my parents live there; I recently visited Oman and I really liked it. Morocco is also a destination I like. I enjoy visiting Asia a lot and not long ago I went to Thailand.
What type of music do you listen to?
I listen to a lot of Hip-Hop. I listen to radio a lot in the car with my kids so I end up listening to everything regardless of the genre.
Movies or TV Shows?
I enjoy movies more than TV Shows.
What are your favorite restaurants in Dubai?
La Cantine Du Faubourg and La Serre are two restaurants I like. In terms of fast food SALT is one of my favorites.