Arsenal old boy Garde renews Spurs rivalry as coach of Lyon in Europa league tie
Paul Hirst, Press Association
20:54 GMT, 13 February 2013
20:54 GMT, 13 February 2013
Lyon boss Remi Garde admits he still harbours the same desire to beat Tottenham as he did during his playing days with rivals Arsenal.
The Ligue 1 side travel to White Hart Lane on Thursday in the first leg of their last 32 Europa League tie. It is their manager’s first competitive visit to the capital since he retired.
Garde joined Arsenal from Strasbourg on the same day as Patrick Vieira arrived from AC Milan in 1996, but both players’ careers then took very different paths.
Wenger boy: Current Lyon coach Remi Garde was part of Arsenal's double winning side of 1997-98
Vieira went on to become a Gunners icon, winning three Barclays Premier League titles, but Garde left three years later having made just 27 starts.
Although he only had limited playing time at Arsenal, Garde remembers his years at Highbury fondly and he admits the fact that this game is against the Gunners’ biggest rivals adds an extra edge to the occasion.
'I can’t deny that when I wore the red shirt of Arsenal the matches against Spurs were important moments for me,' said Garde, whose team arrive in London on the back of two 3-1 defeats.
'It was important to beat Spurs and I suppose in truth those feelings are still there in my head now, even though that page in my career has turned now.'
Reflecting on the challenge at hand, Garde revealed he had been told about the talents of Gareth Bale by former Lyon youth director Georges Prost almost seven years ago, who held the same post at Southampton from 2002-2007 when the winger was at the south coast club.
Back then Bale was just a gangly left-back, but Prost was still convinced the wide man was set for stardom.
'Georges Prost worked with Gareth as a youngster at Southampton,' Garde said.
'He told me a few years ago about him, but he was about 16 at the time and he had already made his debut for Southampton. He was a young man but he was already expensive then, too expensive.
'Prost told me how quick he was then, how much skill he was blessed with even at that age, so it’s not a surprise to me to see the top form Gareth has been in. 'He is the sort of player that we do need to keep an eye on tomorrow.'
Warning: Garde has been warned about the talents of Gareth Bale by former Southampton coach Georges Prost
Homecoming: Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris moved from Lyon to Spurs in the summer but will be replaced by Brad Friedel
Bale has scored five goals in his last four matches to take his tally for the season to 19 – comfortably his best return since he made his bow in 2006.
Spurs and Lyon are also linked by goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who joined Andre Villas-Boas in a 12million move last summer.
Lloris has been in superb form of late, but Villas-Boas revealed today that Brad Friedel will start in goal ahead of the France captain, much to Garde’s disappointment.
'I suppose it’s kind of a regret (that Lloris is not playing).It is for all of us,' Garde said.
'He was very much loved at Lyon. He made a big impression.
'He was a great guy so it would have been nice to have the experience of coming up against him, rather than just seeing him in the corridor.'
Top of his game: Bale has now matured into one of the Premier League's most devastating performers