Nasri: France failed to hit potential
ESPN FC Extra Time
Samir Nasri has admitted he and compatriots Hatem Ben Arfa, Jeremy Menez and Karim Benzema have all failed to cope mentally with being tipped as France's next great generation.
When the quartet contributed to France's European Under-17 Championship triumph in 2004, it seemed the future of Les Bleus was secure as the players that won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 began to age. However, though all four have played for their country at senior level, they have not succeeded in fulfilling neither their potential nor the public's expectations.
Nasri, 26, told Le Parisien he puts that failure down to the players' own attitude.
"You can give us a ball, we'll know what to do with it," he said. "It's rather a mental thing.
"We started very early in the national team with diverging fortunes. It's a shame, but it's not over. I've just gone 26. We've started to mature, grow up. We missed our opportunity first time round. We don't want to miss the second."
Nasri was suspended for three international matches following a controversial Euro 2012 campaign in which he publicly insulted the media, while Menez was given a one-match ban and Ben Arfa warned about his future conduct following run-ins with then-national team boss Laurent Blanc.
While Menez has featured for Les Bleus since, Ben Arfa has yet to play since leaving Ukraine and Nasri's exile only ended in last month's friendly with Belgium. Benzema, meanwhile, finds his place in Didier Deschamps' line-up being questioned as he seeks to end a 14-month-long international goal drought.
"We've all had problems, both in terms of behaviour as well as in our career paths," he said.
"We've not been able to handle the pressure nor the media's expectations. Since 2004, people have been saying we're a golden generation. I have to be honest, we've not been able to make the step up. It's an anomaly. It's up to us to put it right, because we have the talent. But that's not enough. You need desire and determination to establish yourself in the national team."