Djibril Cissé has three words for you—Follow. Your. Heart.
The fashion-forward footballer sits down with Esquire Singapore
BY Celine Yap | Apr 18, 2018 | Interview
If there’s one thing Djibril Cissé has learned from his 19-year career in football, it’s that you gotta fight for what you want. Perhaps that’s why he’s so naturally suited to be a striker. The man knows what he wants, and just goes out there and gets it. That, plus his speed and power which have led him through teams such as Liverpool FC, Olympique de Marseille, Sunderland FC, Greek club Panathinaikos, SS Lazio, Queens Park Rangers, and more.
Pretty high-profile stuff. Not that Cissé is the kind of footballer you’d easily miss either. Constantly in the spotlight for his wild and quirky haircuts, the hirsute Frenchman of Ivorian descent came out of retirement in 2017, and signed with Swiss club Yverson. It may not be the English Premier League but that’s okay. Life has taken Cissé to beautiful Lausanne where he divides his time between football, fashion design (he’s got his own clothing line Mr Lenoir), and deejaying.
Bonjour Cissé! Fancy meeting you at BaselWorld! That was some crowd. I’m curious: don’t you sometimes miss the anonymity?
[Laughs] No I’m used to it. At the beginning it’s a little bit strange because you cannot really do normal things. But it’s part of the game. If you’re famous, you’re famous. You just deal with it.
Yeah it’s not like you can switch off the fame button, can you?
And you’re always doing stuff. At some point I’m going to stop football, and I’m going to do other things. So it’s never a problem for me to do pictures and talk to people.
Doesn’t it get inconvenient though? I mean fame is great but what’s the worst thing about it?
Only when I’m with my kids. I don’t see them that much so I have to spend quality time. When I’m with them I try to be 100 per cent with them. That’s the only difficult part of fame. When you’re with your kids and people don’t understand that you’re trying to have quality time with your kids. Apart from that, the rest is all fine.
So your eldest is into football now. Have you thought about a career for him yet?
No. He’s too young. I don’t want him to think about being too serious at the moment. He’s only 12. He needs to enjoy the sport. The pro part will come later. I don’t want him to be too football-oriented as well because there’s school and school is important. I want him to have fun in football and then in a few years we’ll see if he’s got what it takes to be a professional player.
Did you get much advice from your dad?
Not really because my parents divorced when I was two so I don’t have a lot of memories about my dad. And you know, I didn’t choose football. It was the natural thing for me to do. My father played, all my brothers play… so for me it was only natural.
Were you all playing in the same position?
Yes we’re all strikers.
What sort of special ability, mentally and physically, do you need to have to be a striker?
My quality was speed and power. And a really strong mind. When I miss a chance, I will score the next one. If I don’t score that next one, I don’t put myself down and think, “Djib you missed two, three chances, so it’s the end.” I always motivate myself, and tell myself that I know how to score goals. It’s not something you forget how to do. There are times in football where you don’t score goals, it happens, but you have to be strong, really strong mentally, and tell yourself that’s how it is, you cannot score every game. You have to be patient and give yourself time, and you’re going to score goals again.
Everyone has highs and lows in their career. What was your high?
I’ve got many moments. The Champions League of course with Liverpool in 2005. The scenario was crazy. We were 3-0 down at halftime but we came back 3-3 and then won at penalty. It was a crazy game. Also for me to have come back after two really bad injuries—that’s something I’m really proud of.
Injuries are the worst! What were some other setbacks in your career? Anything you’d have done differently?
My career could have been different without the injuries. But I guess I’ll never know so I don’t want to think too much about it. In my life I’m quite happy with what I’ve achieved. I have five kids, they’re all in good hands. I think I did not too bad. You can always improve and always do better, But I’m quite happy with what I’ve done.
What values are important to you which you want your kids to also have?
The fighting spirit. Always fighting, whatever happens in life. Sickness, injury, whatever happens, always to be strong and to find the power to fight back, to get back up again. To always be the best version of yourself.
How do you know whether you’ve actually raised the bar?
When you play a game, you give your 100 per cent. You can lie to people but you cannot lie to yourself. You know whether you did your best or if you cheated a little bit or you didn’t give your 100 per cent, for whatever reason. I’m quite hard on myself. I like to be the best and I like to be the best player on the team. I like to be the main player of the team, that’s why I’m quite hard on myself. If I scored two but missed two easy goals, I will not be 100 per cent satisfied.
I heard that you came to BaselWorld because of Corum Watches. How did that happen?
I met Corum on Instagram. Social media is really important. You can make businesses or meet new friends through social media. It’s a great thing. I’m really happy to be with Corum.
What are you wearing today?
This is a vintage jacket that I bought from a friend of mine in Italy. That’s Dsquared top and bottom, and Balenciaga shoes. A Corum watch of course, and the sunglasses is a collaboration with a friend of mine.
When you think of the word bubble, what do you think of?
To be in your own world. To be happy with your circle of friends and family. Basically to do what you want to do and what makes you happy.