Videos: Europe's sports stars grapple with foreign languages

Article published on Oct. 29, 2008
Article published on Oct. 29, 2008
When professional players have to move around, they are often forced to adapt to other countries, their cultures and languages in too short a time. Watch four of the best, including Lother Matthaeus, Sebastian Chabal, Giovanni Trapattoni and the late Jesus Gil

Italian manager Giovanni Trapattoni rails in German

A little over a decade ago in March 1998, Italian football manager Giovanni Trapattoni was the star media personality in Italy and Germany for a few days. In the most sublime broken German, he railed at the defeat of his team, Bayern Munich, against FC Schalke 04 from Gelsenkirchen. During the heated press conference, Trapattoni let the leash go on some priceless sentences, including how his players ‘played weakly like empty bottles’ ('haben gespielt wie Flasche leer'). Before leaving, he said ‘I've be finish’ (‘Ich habe fertig’). Sound more like his German is.

German star Lothar Matthaeus has a decent bash at English

In this video, Bayern Munich star Lothar Matthaeus, who currently manages a club in Israel, announces that he is leaving football as a player in the States. The Germans found his English attempts quite funny but phrases like ‘learn English for understand all questions’ and ‘I hope we have a little bit lucky’, show it’s not that bad.

Spain’s Jesús Gil: If I say you black black black, you racist

With the following case over in Spain, Matthaeus looks practically bilingual. The late Atletico Madrid president Jesús Gil had what you could only term as a ‘basic’ grasp of the English language. At this press conference, Gil tries to explain that he wasn’t an absolute racist with phrases like: ‘If I think that you black and say you black black black all days is very bad.’ He died in 2004 aged 71.

France’s Sebastian Chabal: when in France, speak French

Others prefer not to complicate matters. In a good English accent, French rugby star Chabal refuses to answer a question in English at a press conference, glared: ‘No. We are in France. Speak French please.’ No-one dares to challenge him, and he promptly skips off