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By ESPN Staff

Chimbonda resigned to missing out on World Cup

Pascal Chimbonda believes being named in the Professional Footballers' Association's Team of the Year has come too late to land him a place in France's World Cup squad.

Chimbonda was last night honoured by his peers following a superb debut season at right-back for Wigan, earning his place among the PFA elite ahead of the likes of Gary Neville and Steve Finnan.

No-one had heard of Chimbonda when Latics boss Paul Jewell snapped up the 27-year-old last summer for what has since proven to be a bargain £500,000 from Bastia.

Chimbonda has endeared himself to the Latics fans with his all-action performances, to such an extent he has his own song, while there has also been a pie and a beer named after him.

Perhaps if Chimbonda had produced such displays for Chelsea, Arsenal or Manchester United, then he would be a certainty to be included in France coach Raymond Domenech's squad heading to Germany.

Chimbonda said: 'I have not given up hope. The window is still open, but the manager tends to look at the bigger players at the bigger clubs.

'Maybe he did not think Wigan would do as well as they have, so in that respect it will hardly be a surprise if I don't make it.

'I am sure the manager has made up his mind on the 23 he is going to take, so I don't think winning this award will make that much of a difference.

'But it's such a big honour. To make it into the PFA team means it has been a fantastic season, with a lot of pleasure derived from the fact the team have stayed up.

'To do so well has been a massive surprise. I was expecting a battle against relegation, so the way the season has gone, it has been far beyond my expectations.'

It is all a far cry from the July day Chimbonda arrived at the JJB Stadium as he admits he had no idea who he was signing for.

'When I arrived, I knew nothing about Wigan. I had never heard of them - I didn't even know where they were!' explained Chimbonda.

'I just wanted to play in the Premiership. Wigan were the team that approached me, and that is why I signed.

'I have had a superb time, and the fans have been fantastic. They have given me a buzz.

'Hearing them chanting my name is not something I have experienced before, but it drives me on to do even better. It has been a major factor in me doing so well.'

Which is why other clubs may yet take an interest in Chimbonda this summer, who has confirmed he has no verbal agreement with Jewell to leave should a big-money offer be made.

However, he is appreciably ambitious, and while he is not looking to leave, he added: 'If a big club comes in you don't turn them away, you discuss what might be on the table.

'Like any player my ambition is to one day play at a big club, so if something comes up you don't reject it out of hand.'

Jewell, who tonight faces Fulham with his team still in with a shout of clinching a UEFA Cup place for next season, believes Chimbonda has been 'a breath of fresh air'.

'He has come from virtually nowhere, and been a sensational player for us,' added Jewell, who has defenders Arjan de Zeeuw, Ryan Taylor and Matt Jackson out, while David Connolly continues to struggle with a hamstring problem.

'Since our first game against Chelsea he has never looked back. He has gone from strength to strength.

'He has bought into what we are trying to do here, and he has adapted, while the fans took to him straight away, which always helps.

'To then be recognised by your fellow pros is the biggest honour any player can get.'