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I could have been Olympic skier - David Ginola

By Anna Thompson

Ginola is backing the Annecy 2018 Winter Olympic bid
Ginola is backing the Annecy 2018 Winter Olympic bid

He is one of the most recognised footballers of his generation - yet David Ginola almost had a very different sporting career.

At the age of 14 the Frenchman had to decide whether he was going to pursue a career in football or skiing.

He told BBC Sport: "As a child I wanted to play football like Johann Cruyff and ski like Ingemar Stenmark ."

Ginola had the attitude and skill to attempt to emulate his Swedish ski hero, who dominated the technical events for a decade from 1975.

Stenmark's medal-haul included two golds at the 1980 Winter Olympics and three World Championship golds. He still holds the record for the most World Cup race wins with 86.

"I used to have a poster of Stenmark on my bedroom wall," admitted Ginola.

Does he ever regret selecting football over skiing?

"Money-wise I chose the right career but I would have loved to have been a ski champion," he said.

Ginola, 43, started skiing at the age of two and by the time he became a teenager was a talented slalom racer.

"My dad always said he thought I would make a world champion in an individual sport but I opted for football," he said.

During his football career, which saw him play 503 domestic matches for six teams including Paris St Germain, Newcastle and Tottenham, the former France winger was not allowed to ski as a leisure pursuit because his clubs would not insure him against injury.

He had to wait until his retirement from football in 2002 to resume his passion for the slopes.

"Ending my football career was painful but being allowed to ski again was definitely a bonus," said Ginola, who won 17 caps for France.

Olympic champion Edgar Grospiron is heading the 2018 bid
Olympic champion Edgar Grospiron is heading the 2018 bid

And now he is putting his weight behind France's bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics, for the first time since Albertville in 1992.

"It's a great pleasure for me, and quite naturally too, to add my support to France's bid for the 2018 Winter Games, especially in a region I know so well. Annecy and its surrounding area provide a tremendous playing field for winter sports!" said Ginola.

Three cities are vying for the honour, Annecy in France, PyeongChang in South Korea and Munich in Germany, which would become the first city to host both the summer and winter Games.

PyeongChang has been favourite for a long time, having missed out on the 2010 Winter Olympics, which went to Vancouver in Canada, and the 2014 Games, awarded to Sochi in Russia.

But the bid could be damaged because of the renewed hostilities with North Korea.

Annecy bid chairman Edgar Grospiron, himself an Olympic gold medallist moguls skier, said: "At the moment I would say PyeongChang is still favourite but their bid is certainly being harmed with what is happening with North Korea.

"However they have had eight years working on the bid and the lobbying, which is the most important part of the bid. PyeongChang is very strong on lobbying."

All three cities are busy promoting their bids, with seven months to go before the International Olympic Committee votes in Dubai on 6 July.

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see also
China call for urgent Korea talks
28 Nov 10 |  Asia-Pacific
Pyeongchang will host 2018 Games
06 Jul 11 |  Winter Sports

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