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By ESPN Staff

Petit quits France with Santini blast

PARIS, Sept 8 (Reuters) - France World Cup-winner Emmanuel Petit has quit international football - but holds coach Jacques Santini responsible.

The Chelsea midfielder has been a peripheral figure since the World Cup 2002, when Roger Lemerre's defending champions crashed out in the group stages without a single goal to their name.

Petit has lost patience after losing out to former Arsenal team-mate Patrick Vieira and new Blues colleague Claude Makelele, who have cemented their positions under Santini.

'It was not an easy decision to take. But I made up my mind and this is now irrevocable,' the 32-year-old Chelsea player told sports daily L'Equipe.

'I feel great physically and I'm certainly back to my best but I don't think the French squad is led by the right man. He (Santini) is lacking frankness.'

Petit, who won 63 international caps, last played for France in the 2-0 defeat to the Czech Republic in a friendly in Paris in February.

Petit helped France win the 1998 World Cup, scoring in the 3-0 final win over Brazil, and become European champions in 2000.

France have all but qualified for Euro 2004 and last week Santini hinted that Petit's international future might be over when he omitted him from the squad for qualifiers with Cyprus and Slovenia.

Although he said he was awaiting Petit to fully recover from his injury, Santini said he was pleased with the players who had filled in for him.

Petit continued: 'Since my operation (on May 15) we have practically not spoken. And in my rare discussions with Jacques Santini my situation has never been clarified.

'At 32 I would like a more clear statement. He is someone who has difficulties taking on his responsibilities.

'He lets time and events dictate things. In this sense I am doing him a service.'