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By ESPN Staff

Anelka hits out at Lizarazu

France striker Nicolas Anelka insists the World Cup squad was united throughout their wretched campaign and has hit out at Bixente Lizarazu for criticising his performances in South Africa.

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The rest of the 23-man party opted to strike in support of Anelka after the Chelsea frontman was sent home from the tournament following a bust-up with coach Raymond Domenech.

The disruption saw Les Bleus lose their final group game 2-1 to South Africa and exit the tournament at the group stage.

Reports in the French media have suggested some members of the squad had been coerced into taking part in the strike, but Anelka says that was not the case.

"Everyone and I mean everyone was united,'' the 31-year-old told France Soir newspaper. "In the case of mutiny, everything and its opposite was said. If there were players who wanted to train, they should speak now. But I am 100% certain that nobody will.

He added: "If it was not from me that everything was precipitated, this would have happened with someone else. It had to explode.''

Jeremy Toulalan on Sunday accepted the whole squad should be punished for boycotting training, telling Journal du Dimanche: "I'm not proud of what I did but I accept responsibility.

"There were no ringleaders and no slaves, no good guys and no bad guys. We were all involved and we are all responsible because nobody said a word (against the boycott). Whoever says otherwise is a liar.''

Anelka appreciates the Lyon midfielder's stance. He said: "It takes a form of courage and a strong mentality from Jeremy to take it. I am proud to have played with him and the team of France. Jeremy is a players' player.''

The former Arsenal and Real Madrid forward was not so complimentary about former France full-back Lizarazu, however.

Lizarazu, a World Cup winner with Les Bleus in 1998, has criticised Anelka's casual attitude in South Africa, accusing the forward of "strolling'' and playing "in a selfish manner''.

Anelka responded by sarcastically asking: "Lizarazu - who is he? When he speaks and we listen, we seem to hear a living legend. He's just a former player in lack of recognition, frustrated by the success of his mates Zidane and Dugarry.

"Has he forgotten that he was at the 2002 World Cup? I was not included in the squad but I refrained from comment. He should stop talking about respect.''


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