David Ginola: I turned down the chance to play rugby after football
Published 22/05/2014 | 15:58
David Ginola turned down the chance to sign for top French rugby club Stade Francais when he retired from football.
The 17-cap France winger has revealed Stade flyer Christophe Dominici and even then-club president Max Guazzini tried to convince him to take up top-level rugby in 2002.
Ginola admitted he had to reject the offer, joking: "I would have been in the hospital every day!"
Former Paris St Germain, Newcastle and Tottenham midfielder Ginola said it would prove extremely difficult for footballers to convert to rugby.
"It's never been done before that a player could play both rugby and football," said Ginola, launching Heineken's Ultimate Player enterprise.
"I was offered to play rugby when I retired from football, from Stade Francais. But you couldn't do both.
"I think a rugby player could play football, because you can integrate some things into football.
"But for a footballer to play rugby, it's a different education, and rugby is such a tough game, it's a fight, it's the contact between the players.
"If you're not used to taking the hits, you can't do it, so that's why I decided to stick with football, and not change to rugby.
"I would have been the target of most of the players, switching from football, and I would have been in the hospital every day!"
Colourful Stade owner Guazzini brought world stars and razzamatazz to Stade, even corralling 80,000 crowds for club matches at the Stade de France.
Household names in rugby rolled in and out of Stade as a matter of course under Guazzini's stewardship, but Ginola revealed the ambitious former owner never counted anything out.
"It started as a joke, because I was having dinner with my friend Christophe Dominici, who played for Stade and France," said Ginola.
"And he said 'David, you've just retired, you're quite fast and strong, have you never thought about playing rugby?'
"He said 'let me call Max': he did and he said, 'Max, I'm with David Ginola, he's just retired and it would be fantastic if we signed him for Stade'.
"Max said 'no, you're kidding' and hung up.
"Five minutes later the phone rang and he said 'it's a great idea'.
"As an idea it may have been a good one, but after thinking about it, I had to tell myself it was not a great idea and that I wanted to stay safe."