France legend Youri Djorkaeff expresses sadness over plight of his old club Bolton Wanderers

Youri Djorkaeff wore a protective mask at the start of the 2003-04 season

Youri Djorkaeff wore a protective mask at the start of the 2003-04 season

First published in Sport The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , sports writer

YOURI Djorkaeff has spoken of his sadness at seeing his old club Wanderers struggling to regain their place in the Premier League.

Ten years after leaving, the World Cup winner still fondly remembers his spell at the Reebok and admits finding it difficult coming to terms with the Whites not being in the top tier of English football.

He may have won trophies galore in spells with Inter Milan and the French national side, but Djorkaeff still holds Bolton dear to his heart.

Speaking to UEFA.com, the 46-year-old who is based in New York, said: “I enjoyed playing in Bolton.

“It was fantastic. My three years in Bolton was totally different.

“I was a different age, but I found good people – players like Jay-Jay Okocha, Ivan Campo and, after, Fernando Hierro.

“It was a time when Bolton was a good club and I'm a little bit sad now at what is happening to this club.

“I still remember what kind of Wanderers we were, which is good, and I heard Kevin Davies had retired (left) after years!”

Djorkaeff, who also won the European Championships with France, the UEFA Cup with Inter and the European Cup Winners Cup with Paris St Germain, spent two and a half years with Wanderers after joining from German side Kaiserslautern in 2002 and scored 20 goals in 81 games under Sam Allardyce.

The move raised eyebrows at the time but it was one Djorkaeff has no regrets about.

And he recalls with pride the experience of playing in the top flight and helping the Whites become a force in the top half of the Premier League table – the platform from which they eventually qualified for the UEFA Cup.

Djorkaeff, who played in the Carling Cup final for Wanderers in February 2004, left Wanderers for Blackburn Rovers at the end of that season when his contract was not renewed.

After a brief spell at Ewood, he moved to the MLS with the New York-based MetroStars, who later became Red Bull New York, retiring in October 2006.

“It was such a pleasure playing in England and not something I expected.

“It's a mix of all the best leagues in Europe. Anyone can beat anyone.

“The first season (at Bolton) was incredible.

“I arrived when we were bottom of the league and we put together a good run of results to avoid relegation.

“Sam Allardyce was the coach and I had some good times in Bolton.”

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