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Thursday, May 16, 2002

Deux Bleus set out retirement plans

Frank Leboeuf and Christophe Dugarry, two stalwarts of Roger Lemerre's France squad at the World Cup, announced retirement plans on Thursday.

Leboeuf, centre-half in Les Bleus' 1998 final triumph over Brazil, plans to quit the national side before completing his career with a final season with Marseille.

The 34-year-old former Chelsea defender, who is preparing with the French squad at Clarefontaine ahead of Saturday's friendly against Belgium, said: 'Even if I do great at the World Cup, I won't change my mind. France is over for me.

'But I still have a contract running for one year with Olympique Marseille and I'm still hungry for soccer. I don't want to stop right away.'

Leboeuf, who has 46 caps and was also part of Lemerre's successful European Championship party of 2000, said Marseille officials had offered to make him manager but he turned down the job, feeling he was not ready for it yet.

Meanwhile, Dugarry told a press conference of his plans to quit in 2005, saying: 'I will be 33 then and there is a good chance that I will end my career at this time. I would have been a professional for 16 years then. It's not that bad.'

However, the Bordeaux captain, who scored France's first goal in the 1998 World Cup before injuring himself in the second match, refused to rule out playing on.

'I don't know if I'll still be with Bordeaux,' he said. 'I might reconsider my decision if an interesting challenge pops up like the one Laurent Blanc has taken up by joining Manchester United.'

Dugarry, who was also a member of the Euro 2000, will be hoping to add to his 50 caps as France begin the defence of their world crown in Group A with matches against Senegal, Uruguay and Denmark.

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