Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ludovic Giuly leaves Barca

With all the attention paid to AC Milan's Andriy Shevchenko and Barcelona's Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto'o prior to Tuesday's European Champions League semifinal, Ludovic Giuly barely was mentioned.

Yet the veteran France forward was the one to beat an offside trap and send a left-footed shot past Milan goalkeeper Dida in the 57th minute for Barcelona's 1-0 win.

At 29, Giuly has reached the point in his career where he can't play a full 90 minutes anymore.

"He worked very hard in the first half. I asked (at halftime) if he had maybe 15 more minutes in him and he replied that he had 20," Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard said. "I checked my watch after he scored and it was just under 20 minutes into the half. Maybe this was what he had in mind."

Roma is his destination, with the two clubs having agreed a deal worth 3.2 million euros with possible additional payments of up to 1.2 million.

Ludo was apparently told that he was surplus to the club's requirements at the end of the 06-07 season, given the club's intentions of promoting promising young attacker Gio Dos Santos into the first team, and the steady rise of Leo Messi. I'm glad that a satisfactory settlement has been arrived at that seems to suit all parties, and Giuly departs in the same good spirit he always maintained in his time at the club.

The official website has a comprehensive article about the Frenchman's years at Barca. He joined as part of the 04-05 revolution which bought in 8 other players and which gave the fans two years of fun, games, (an astonishing number of knee and muscle injuries), trophies and some bloody good football. During his time at the club he was well regarded within the dressing room for his cheery demeanour and for being a good squad player who would perform when called upon but also sit on the bench without much complaint.

Giuly had one great season and two more fairly good ones for us, but the one thing I'll always remember him for is the brilliant strike against Milan at the San Siro, which is of course the subject of the AP article quoted above. It sent Barca into the final, which allowed us to finally bring Big Ears home again after a too-long drought. There's no way to really articulate how much that means to us supporters.

Actually, no, I lied. Here's something else I remember lividly about Giuly: the tears in his eyes as he wandered around the pitch with his little boy on his shoulders after the Champions League final, finally triumphant after the painful defeat to Porto two years earlier when he was the captain of Monaco.

Good luck, Ludo. And thank you for the memories.

(Incidentally, I'm working on a post about Rijkaard's 04-05 and 05-06 team. Quite a number out of the 27 who participated in those two seasons have departed now, and they deserve a tribute.)


los uno said...

Yeah...the two instances you've mentioned were probably the two highlights of Ludo's career at Barca. Immensely likeable he was and had a great attitude. I also remember when he first joined us. He scored in almost every pre-season game. He was brought in to play in the same position that was occupied by Luis Garcia and after his kinda pre-season (admittedly Luis Garcia also scored quite a few during that very pre-season) Luis Garcia was let go to Liverpool. That goal against Milan was lauded so much in the press for Ronaldinho's pass, which was unfortunate because Ludo did a lot to finish from such a tight angle. Anyway, lets hope he does well at Roma (and oh yes..I also remember his cheeky backheel goal against Real that put them out of the CL the season before he joined Barca)

Mal said...

I always like Giuly. He was linked to Liverpool at one stage and would have made a good signing when we were lacking wingers.

linda said...

los uno: Yeah, I'm going to miss having him around, and not just because he was our last real winger.

The amount of press coverage Ronnie does get must be annoying to the other players who contribute just as much to the team, but I guess we have to live with it. Much as I think Ronnie is a genius, Ludo deserves a lot of credit for that goal.

I was just watching that backheel goal, actually - and what a celebration to go with it as well.

Mal: I remember that period. Yeah, he would have been good, but you guys look set for wingers now anyway. :D

Soccer Mania said...

Yeah I remember that goal that sent my team crashing out of the Champions League :-). I think it is a very sensible decision by Barcelona and Guily. Also, Roma is a very attacking team that might suit Guily. I can see Guily playing in the wings alongside the much under-rated Mancini.

It will be interesting to see the way Rijkaard manages- Dinho, Messi, Henry, Etoo, Dos Santos. I think it is a major challenge and Rijkaard shd better get the best out of these fantasticplayers

You are a huge supporter of Barcelona. FYI I live in Barcelona abt 5 mins walk from Camp Nou :-).

Derek said...

Sad to see the Magic Imp depart also. But he is fondly remembered by most and I wish him well at Roma.

linda said...

soccer mania: I'm really worried about this coming season, to be honest. In Henry Barca bought both a fantastic player (nice to have) and a huge ego (really didn't need).

You live in Barcelona? I'm envious. Supporting the club from a country which doesn't care about football is an...interesting experience, let's say.

Derek: Yeah, I'll be keeping an eye on how he does there. So glad his departure was amiable - for a while there I was worried given his agent's antics.