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Christophe Dugarry
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Premier League Cult Icons: Christophe Dugarry

From Barcelona to Small Heath, Christophe Dugarry was the World Cup-winning maverick who captured the hearts and imagination of Birmingham City supporters with his irrepressible and majestic skill.

Not many players can say their career path had taken them from the glamourous stadia of Camp Nou and San Siro to the slightly lesser venue that is St Andrew's.

Joining Steve Bruce's Birmingham on loan from Bordeaux in January 2003, Dugarry's excellence steered the club clear of relegation trouble and captivated supporters with his mesmerising charm.

Bruce thought it was a joke when Dugarry's agent rang to ask if he was interested in the forward. In a Birmingham side that were industrious and conventional, Dugarry was the enigmatic superstar capable of producing moments of sheer genius to win matches.

His time with Birmingham lasted 14 months. Even if his stint at St Andrew's was short-lived, Dugarry is still worshipped by the Blues faithful - very few players have left such an indelible impression on the club since.

Christophe Dugarry In Profile

Place of BirthLormont, France
PositionForward
Premier League club(s)Birmingham City
Premier League appearances30
Premier League goals6
Premier League assists1
International caps55
Other notable clubsBarcelona, AC Milan, Bordeaux, Marseille

Journey into football

Born in Lormont, a suburb of Bordeaux, Dugarry started his youth career with US Lormont before joining Girondins Bordeaux's academy at the age of 16.

Aimé Jacquet handed him his professional debut at the age of 16 in a season where Bordeaux failed to scale the heights of their runner-up finish in the previous campaign.

A regular during the 1990/91 campaign, Dugarry was helpless to prevent Bordeaux's relegation to the second division, with the club demoted due to their budget deficit. Dugarry was a prominent feature in their immediate return to France's top flight and with the purchase of Zinedine Zidane from Cannes, Bordeaux scaled new heights.

The formidable duo were key in the club's Intertoto Cup success of 1995 and Dugarry was pivotal in Bordeaux's run to the UEFA Cup final a year later, scoring twice as they defeated AC Milan in the quarter-finals en route.

His match-winning exploits didn't go unnoticed by the Italian giants and Milan secured his services in the summer. Dugarry was a one-season reject at the San Siro before jetting off to Barcelona.

He didn't last long in Catalonia; Dugarry returned to France six months later, joining Marseille.

Style of play

Given the licence to do mostly as he pleased under Bruce, Dugarry ignited Birmingham's attack with his exquisite control and unpredictable movement.

Dugarry's exceptional technique enabled him to dribble past defenders with ease and the forward possessed both the vision and precision to unlock opponents with a perfectly-weighted pass.

The Frenchman may have only scored six goals across his Birmingham spell but he demonstrated variety in each of them; the sublime curling free-kick around the wall against Southampton, the outrageous backheel finish against Charlton and the divine thigh and volley against Middlesbrough.

With an elegant turn he could take three defenders out of the game and Dugarry wasn't afraid to embarrass the sternest of opponents; nutmegging Tottenham's Stephen Carr was evidence of that.

His mesmerising ability with the ball at his feet is what made the striker stand out above all else but Dugarry always wore his heart on his sleeve, which only heightened the adulation from Birmingham supporters.

Birmingham City legacy

Dugarry's induction into Birmingham City's Hall of Fame tells you everything you need to know about his lasting impression on the club.

To this day, supporters cherish the short but sweet period where Dugarry would weave his magic on a football pitch. Many would arrive to the stadium early just to see Dugarry warm-up, in awe of his captivating talent.

A match-winning brace against Southampton remains arguably one of the club's greatest individual performances this century. It was a demonstration of Dugarry's world-class skill, entertaining observers with his great panache and flaunting his incredible finesse as he grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and led his side to victory.

Leaving the club by mutual consent midway through the 2003/04 season, an unceremonious departure could have tainted his reputation but Birmingham were just grateful that a player of Dugarry's calibre was willing to showcase his ability in their colours.

Biggest career achievement

France's 1998 World Cup triumph is the greatest accomplishment across Dugarry's 17-year career.

Scoring in their opening match of the tournament against South Africa, Dugarry's World Cup appeared to have come to a premature end after suffering an injury against Saudi Arabia. He returned in time for the final, coming off the bench as Les Bleus lifted the World Cup trophy for the first time in their history.

France's domination didn't stop there, with Dugarry a member of their winning side at Euro 2000. He started the final against Italy in Feyenoord as Roger Lemerre's side swaggered to back-to-back major titles. He also featured in France's Confederations Cup triumph in 2001.

From a club perspective, it's amazing that a player who represented Barcelona and AC Milan only managed to get his hands on silverware with Bordeaux. Dugarry won the Intertoto Cup in 1995 during his first stint with Les Girondins before lifting the Coupe de la Ligue in his second spell in 2002.

And at Birmingham, Dugarry reflects fondly on his influence in elevating Bruce's side from relegation candidates to a comfortable mid-table finish - the highest of any Midlands club that year.

Did you know?

From crying in Louis van Gaal's office in an attempt to force a move from Barcelona to questioning Bruce's Rich Tea biscuits upon their first meeting, Dugarry's career had a fair share of intriguing stories.

Bruce found himself altering his management style to satisfy the Frenchman. Strict on his timekeeping with the rest of the squad, the former Birmingham boss would allow Dugarry to be late every now and then.

His lenience stretched to the point where Dugarry excused himself of some sessions in the gym. "Footballer, not rower," he replied when the club's physio Neil McDermott asked him to jump on the rowing machine.

Other members of the squad expected Bruce to go mad at his refusal but the manager simply shrugged it off.

"Once you lot have won the World Cup and the Euros, you can do that as well," quipped Bruce.

It was Dugarry in a nutshell.

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