x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Tumultuous times follow Djibril Cisse

The enigmatic striker hopes to prove his worth with QPR to make the France squad for Euro 2012, but controversy and goals follow the player wherever he goes.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 01: Djibril Cisse of QPR celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Queens Park Rangers at Villa Park on February 1, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 01: Djibril Cisse of QPR celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Queens Park Rangers at Villa Park on February 1, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Djibril Cisse's latest reacquaintance with the Premier League has been dramatic so far.

In his two outings since joining Queens Park Rangers, the third of his English employers and the seventh club of the 30-year-old Frenchman's career, he has displayed twin aspects of himself: Cisse the talented and Cisse the touchy.

A determination to hit the ground running, to make an instant impact is pure Cisse.

He scored on his QPR debut, at Aston Villa, barely 48 hours after signing from Lazio at the end of the January transfer window. Deja vu.

He had netted on his first Premier League contest for Liverpool, seven seasons ago; at the start of the 2008/09 campaign, he scored on the first match of his stint with Sunderland.

His second QPR game would reveal the prickly side, though, a red card after he responded aggressively to a late, bad tackle from Wolverhampton Wanderers' Roger Johnson.

Johnson had touched a raw nerve. Cisse, 30, has twice suffered broken legs at key points in his career.

In his mind, Johnson's challenge had put him at risk of another.

He will complete his three match suspension later this month, when Cisse's principal target - and he has made no secret of it - is to perform well and decisively enough for QPR to earn himself a place in France's Euro 2012 squad.

Many compatriots hope he does. Over the course of a decade, Cisse has become popular with compatriots and France managers for his strong work ethic as well as his assets as a striker.

"He worries defenders with his strength and his pace," Mark Hughes, the QPR manager, said.

Laurent Blanc, the current France head coach, lauds "his constant enthusiasm for representing his country".

Cisse, the son of an Ivory Coast international, could have played for the West African nation or for France, where he was born. Since choosing Les Bleus, his commitment has been total.

Blanc recalled Cisse to a French squad at the beginning of the season, after an absence that had lasted since the 2010 World Cup. It was his umpteenth comeback.

Yet bad luck has punctuated his international career.

Ahead of the 2004 European Championship, Cisse, who was earmarked for a place in the national squad but still young enough to represent the Under 21s, was picked to appear in the under-age side for an important game against Portugal.

He was fouled and reacted petulantly, picking up a ban that would cost him a place in the senior tournament.

Days before the 2006 World Cup, he had his leg broken in a friendly against China. He would play no part in France's march to the final in Berlin.

Ahead of Euro 2008, he would be among seven players on the shortlist who did not make the cut for the 23-man party that went to Austria and Switzerland.

That's not all. His first broken leg had already interrupted a promising start to his career at Liverpool in the 2004/05 season.

He suffered it at Blackburn Rovers in the late autumn of his first season at Anfield, a routine-looking collision but with a grim verdict once the extent of the wound was diagnosed.

"The doctor said to me I would be out until the next season," Cisse recently told L'Equipe, the French newspaper.

He remembers proudly how he was playing again by the February, four months after the injury had been sustained, and would contribute to the scarcely credible denouement to Liverpool's season, victory in the Champions League final against AC Milan, from 3-0 down, via a penalty shoot-out.

The comeback kid had been part of one of the most engaging comebacks in modern football.

If, during his time at Liverpool, something of what Cisse calls his "battling character, something I was born with" emerged, so did his touchiness.

Cisse was clearly agitated towards the close of the summer 2005 transfer window, when Liverpool fans were pressing for the return to the club of Michael Owen, Rafa Benitez, the head coach, was favouring his Spanish compatriot striker Fernando Morientes and Peter Crouch had been unveiled as a new recruit.

Although Cisse would hit 14 goals in 19 Premier League starts over the next 10 months, he then left Liverpool for Olympique Marseille.

Benitez had not been the sort of warm, arm-around-the-shoulder coach Cisse had known as a teenager at Auxerre, where the long-serving Guy Roux was, and has remained, a mentor.

Unusually among France players of the last six or seven years, Cisse also had a good relationship with Raymond Domenech, who oversaw France's disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign.

In a tense dressing-room, the striker provided moments of cheer.

"Djib always creates a good atmosphere," his friend Thierry Henry said of Cisse, whose love of music and very obvious interest in body decoration, be it his tattoos or his ever-changing coiffeur, identifies him as a sort who likes a little attention.

His target over the next three months will be to gain the close, keen attention of Blanc.

Cisse joined Lazio last August because he thought goals in Serie A would be valued by the France head coach more than the ones he had been scoring regularly for Panathinaikos in Greece.

When the goals dried up in Rome, he leapt at his invitation from London.