Arsenal defender Gael Clichy has paid tribute to his manager Arsene Wenger after receiving his long-awaited maiden call-up to the France squad.
The 22-year-old was one of three left-backs selected by Les Bleus coach Raymond Domenech yesterday for next week's friendly double-header against DR Congo and Spain.
Clichy, who is likely to feature in the `A' international against Congo in Marbella on Tuesday, has been a regular starter for the Gunners since Ashley Cole moved to Chelsea in August 2006.
He is enjoying a superb season and has thanked Wenger for putting faith in him.
'The work I have put in over the past few years is starting to pay dividends,' he said.
'It is thanks to Arsene Wenger, who has always believed in me. I owe him a lot and I hope to take the confidence I have built up into the France team.'
Clichy was shocked to receive the call-up, even though he admitted he had been waiting for it for a while.
'It is obviously a big surprise, even if people have spoken about it for a long time,' he added.
'I was more and more expectant at the time of each squad selection and I was starting to drive myself to despair.
'There is a mixture of joy, emotion and pride. And I can't wait to join up with the squad, put on the blue jersey and play against Spain or Congo.
'I hope to be part of the squad long term.'