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French pair should learn from Dewey

Last Sunday I interviewed a man who spent half his life in prison for a crime he didn't commit. In 1983, Dewey Bozella was convicted of the murder of a 92-year-old woman despite no physical evidence linking him to the scene.

In the 26 years that followed, he was given numerous opportunities for an early release but only on the condition that he admitted guilt.

Dewey refused every time and said he would rather die in prison than accept the blame for something he didn't do.

In 2009, a law firm which had taken up his case uncovered evidence that had been withheld from his initial trial and he was finally exonerated. Since his release he has achieved his dream of fighting a professional boxing fight and has dedicated his life to helping kids learn discipline and responsibility through the sport.

Speaking to Dewey on 'iTalk Sport' on Setanta, I was struck by his relentless positivity. Here is a man who has every reason to be angry with the world but instead he wants to be a force for good.

I can't help but think that Gerard Houllier and David Ginola could do worse than sitting down with Bozella to learn a thing or two about letting bygones be bygones.

Last week, the news came through that Houllier is to face legal action from Ginola for comments he made against his former player in a recently published book.

Ginola will sue for alleged "public insult and defamation" in relation to a conflict dating all the way back to a match played in November 1993. France, managed by Houllier and with Ginola in the team, needed only a draw at home to Bulgaria to qualify for the 1994 World Cup. They were level at 1-1 as injury time approached but a goal by Emil Kostadinov dumped them out.

Houllier wasted no time finding his scapegoat: "The adventure is over all too soon," he said at the time.

"With only 30 seconds remaining we were there but we got stabbed in the back and at the worst possible time. The referee still had his whistle to his mouth when Ginola won that free-kick near the corner flag, but then he goes and sends in a huge 60-metre cross instead of hanging on to the ball. That allowed Bulgaria to go and hit us on the counter."

Ginola answered back in his autobiography seven years later but Houllier, apparently, is a man who likes to have the last word in an argument. He criticised Ginola again on French television a couple of years ago and has had another pop in a book called 'Secrets de Coach' which hit the shelves last month, prompting Ginola to call in the lawyers.

I've just had a look at the goal on Youtube and can't help but wonder why Houllier wasn't asking questions of the nine players France had between the ball and their goal after Ginola's overhit pass, none of whom thought to stop the Bulgarians sweeping the ball up the pitch for Kostadinov to slam home.

It's also worth noting that France wouldn't even have needed a point had they not messed up their penultimate qualifying game against Israel.



Scapegoating

Finishing a campaign with home defeats by Israel and Bulgaria? It sounds like the manager should be scapegoating himself.

Houllier's knife might well have been sharpened even before the game, which was played at the Parc des Princes, home of Ginola's club at the time, Paris Saint-Germain.

The manager claims that Eric Cantona and Jean-Pierre Papin were booed mercilessly in the stadium that night because Ginola had said the pair were not worthy of their place in the team ahead of him. Cantona and Papin played for PSG's rivals, Marseille.

You can see why this might have caused headaches for Houllier and it provides a bit of context for his post-match rant but couldn't all this acrimony have been left in 1993?

Houllier's constant bleating on about it doesn't paint him in a positive light but Ginola could easily be the bigger man by leaving his old manager to wrap himself up in his own bitterness.

Instead we have a court date set for December 12 in Toulon.

Wouldn't it be nice if one of these men got a hold of the Dewey Bozella story before then?


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