Welcome to Where Are They Now?, a fairly self-explanatory series where I take a former Premier League “legend” and wonder where they went after their star faded.
We kick off the series with a man who has won a World Cup, has an apostrophe in his name and really, really hates the Daily Mail. Yes, it’s none other than Stephane Guivarc’h.
A prominent goalscorer in the French league throughout the 90s, he helped little Auxerre to the league and cup double in 1996 before being chosen to lead the line for the national team in the World Cup. This was all very exciting for Newcastle fans as before the tournament the man with the apostrophe in his name had already agreed to a £3.5 million move to partner Alan Shearer for Kenny Dalglish.
As local journalist John Gibson would recount in 2014 for The Chronicle, there was palpable excitement amongst the Newcastle fan base about the signing of Guivarc’h. Gibson himself was excited as he sat down with West Ham scout Peter Storrie (Pompey hero) on the eve of the tournament only to find out that Mr. Apostrophe was a bit flimsy and a bit crap according to the scout. It sadly proved to be true as the French went on to win the World Cup with a striker that didn’t score at all. In fact, French papers have since named him the most likely to be forgotten in a pub quiz. How foreboding.
To be fair to Guivarc’h, he did score on his debut against Liverpool. In a 4-1 home defeat. Even then it was, at best, a slightly scruffy tap-in (can be seen from about 7:40 onwards below). He wold go on to offer little else other than that goal and would play just four games for the club. Peter Storrie’s tale of a weak, rubbish player were very on the button and Newcastle fans realised that. New boss Ruud Gullit also realised that and sold the Frenchman in October 1998 to Rangers.
Guivarc’h would win the treble at Rangers in 1999 but barely did much better than he had done at Newcastle. He would return to France in 1999 with Auxerre for a couple of seasons before finishing his career at Guingamp before his retirement in 2002.
It was revealed that Guivarc’h is now a swimming pool salesman for a friend and fishes on the weekend. He reportedly sells them at the same rate he scored goals which means they’re not exactly flying into people’s back gardens.
Perhaps the best memory we can have of Guivarc’h is that he really hates the Daily Mail. Having been voted the worst striker in Premier League history by the Daily Mail, he fired back at the rag; calling the list a “stunt” and slagging off the English for being incompetent at football. What a guy! The Daily Mail’s article on that ends with the best line considering what happened next (it was done pre-2010 World Cup) as they go on to brag about how the great Fabio Capello is flicking through the South African holiday brochures.
Guivarc’h also took time out to fire shots at Gullit, calling him a ‘tourist’ that ‘stuck me in a cupboard out of the way’. The French really are so poetic.
Come back next week where we will take a trip down memory lane with one of the Premier League’s more rotund strikers – Titi Camara.