In an exclusive interview for our fansite, Pierre Pellegri opens up on his life so far. The French football legend opens up on his past and discusses how public interest in his life changed the way he approached his football career. Pellegri also discusses his intention to return to football in a managerial capacity
Pierre, you've been a busy man since moving to Los Angeles in 2010. Can you catch us up on your time in the US?
"It has been quite wild, as to be expected for me! I moved to LA in June 2006 and signed a contract with Galaxy at the time. I was given a month to settle into the new country in which time I got to know the city, and some of the women, pretty well. I rented a house in the (Beverly) Hills, which I know own, and engrossed myself in the culture of the city.
I made my MLS debut later that year, which was rather interesting. Football is a lot bigger here than it used to be - there were very few fans of the sport at the time. Of course, Galaxy had Landon Donovan who would go on to become a legend of the game for the MLS and internationally for the US. We didn't win any trophies between 2006 and when I retired from playing in 2010, but it was a good ride. I enjoyed it.
The lifestyle here is crazy. It isn't like the rest of the US, which already likes to live more extremely than in the US, where things are perhaps more relaxed and maybe a little more cultured - LA takes everything to a new level. Some of the wealthiest, most successful and most famous people on the planet live here, and the city certainly caters for that. There has never been a dull night for me here.
I've set up a few businesses too. I have a clothing brand which is of the quality of most high-end designer brands but certainly more accessible for high street shoppers. That business has kept me quite busy at times, but we have full-time staff who work on that. I've helped set up a few other small businesses and non-profit organisations that aim to help children from troubled backgrounds. That is something important for me."
You've been spotted in Hollywood rubbing shoulders with the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kevin Hart. How close are you to these A-List celebrities? Were you ever nervous to meet them?
"We're very good friends. Leo and I go back years and we share similar interests. We spend a lot of time in each other's company, when we're not preoccupied by female companions or other businesses. I also spend a lot of time with Harty, Mark Wahlberg and a few others. I've made quite a few friends here.
I don't think I was ever nervous to talk to these guys. They might be the most well-known people in the world, and certainly inspire millions, but I am quite used to associating with celebrities. Zizou (Zinedine Zidane) and Ronaldo were among the famous players I've played with or against. Eric (Cantona) would like to be top of that last but he's more deluded than he was good at football, truth be told.
Back in France, and even in Palermo, I was used to having cameras flash and being crowded out whenever I left my front door. Coming to the US where football is not so popular - I didn't get that so much when I was playing for Galaxy. Funnily enough, now that football is quite popular here, I get crowded by paparazzi more than I did when I was playing!"
You said the media didn't give you a lot of space during your days playing in Europe. Did that ever push you into making a decision for your career?
"It did. I love being the cover of magazines and making front-page headlines on newspapers but a line has to be drawn somewhere. At times I got frustrated with the media coverage of myself. I was often painted as a wild spirit who had no care for his career or for other people. That was never true. I enjoyed how I celebrated my life, yes, but I never took anything for granted.
In 2000, I had a choice between extending my contract with Lyon, moving to one of many major European clubs interested in me, or move to a club where I didn't have to fight off reporters with a stick every minute of every day. I loved being in the spotlight - but only when I wanted to be in it. I was always good at showing up for the camera but I didn't want to be broadcast to the world every second of every day. That was rather intrusive.
In the end, I knew that I didn't have many options where I wouldn't get followed by the press too much. Sicily made sense - an island at the end of Italy. I could still enjoy my football at a club that wanted to be competitive at the highest level. Of course, there was still plenty of paparazzi there, but I was able to evade them when I wanted to.
Then, when Galaxy came in for me, it was an easy decision. I joined a club where I could express myself and be in front of the camera when I wanted and hide from it when I didn't want to be seen. It was the right move at the time of my life. I got to experience respect without fame - it was a nice change."
The MLS has certainly exploded since you joined the league. Just how far has the league come?
"I certainly made a difference - that's not something that can be denied. David (Beckham) joined the following year and together we were certainly pioneers. We revolutionised the league together. The pillars of the league were certainly built as a result of our brave moves to the US. We were brave - entering relatively unknown ground. It was a risk for both of us but we certainly made the most of the opportunity.
How far has the league come since? The players that followed us over emphasises just how much - Steven Gerrard, Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard, David Villa and, probably most famously, Zlatan Ibrahimović. Would they have signed for the MLS had David and I not taken the risks we did? I don't think so."
As you said, the list goes on. In terms of managers, the league has also attracted some reputable names, including a former team mate of yours for the French National Team, Patrick Vieira. Would you ever consider following in his footsteps by turning to management?
"That is an objective of mine. I took a lot of time out from football after retiring from playing in 2010 but in the last few years I have worked towards gaining my coaching badges. From trips back to Europe, I now hold a UEFA Pro License. I plan on returning to Europe in the future to manage a football team. It is something I'd like to do, for sure.
I don't quite know where I'd like to manage. I would have to consider what jobs are available and then make a decision. I wouldn't take a job for the sake of taking a job - it has to be the right fit for me."
Face was computer generated on generated.photos.
Club logos: Footbe logos
Everything else was self-designed.
, he's on a mission now. Management is on his mind!
, he does like a good shindig!
, I forgive you
, thank you
, the perfect place for him!
, better than setting his testicles out for all to see, I suppose