Till you notice the ‘M’ on the left side of his blue tee, Patrick Vieira looks like he's part of the France squad. Having just signed a year's contract with big-spending English club Manchester City, the former Arsenal and Juventus midfielder, who turns 34 in 13 days, didn't hide his disappointment at being left out of the 2010 World Cup and coach Raymond Domenech’s plans, but said life goes on.
At a programme organised by McDonald's on Thursday morning, Vieira played the good host, obliging journalists with interviews.
On June 23, 2006, your birthday, you had led France to victory in a must-win match against Togo. It kick-started France's World Cup campaign in Germany. How will you spend your birthday this time?
(Smiles). No birthday plans yet though what I do know is that I will be here in South Africa for sure. Maybe, friends will plan something.
Were you surprised at being left out?
Let's say I was disappointed. I wanted to be part of the France team. But then, in life you don't always achieve your targets. That's how it is. Also, you have to accept the manager's decision. Having played 107 times for France, I know all about that. I will have to live with it.
Won't France miss the leadership qualities of Vieira and Zinedine Zidane?
There is nothing new about players coming and going. Look at the France team now: there is (Thierry) Henry, (Franck) Ribery, (Eric) Abidal, (William) Gallas from the 2006. campaign in Germany. There is also (Florent) Malouda and Nicolas Anelka. So, you have some quality in the French team.
How do you rate France's chances at this year’s tournament?
They have strong players and are a strong side. We now need to believe that we will do well. The first game's important but I think France will be ready.
And who are your favourites for the title?
Spain. They are really strong going forward. Over the last few years, they are the best team around.
What's your take on Laurent Blanc taking over from Raymond Domenech?
Is he? Didn't know that.