Wiltord training with Rennes in 2008
|Full name||Sylvain Claude Wiltord|
|Date of birth||10 May 1974|
|Place of birth||Neuilly-sur-Marne, France|
|Height||1.74 m (5 ft 9 in)|
|Playing position||Right winger|
|1996–1997||Deportivo La Coruña||0||(0)|
|1996–1997||→ Rennes (loan)||35||(3)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Sylvain Claude Wiltord (French pronunciation: [wiltoʁ]; born 10 May 1974) is a French former professional footballer. Mainly a right winger, he also played as a centre-forward, second striker and on the left wing.
With the French national team, Wiltord earned 92 caps and scored 26 goals. He played at the 1996 Olympics, two FIFA World Cups and two UEFA European Championships. Wiltord was part of the teams which won Euro 2000 and reached the final of the 2006 World Cup.
Early career, Rennes and Bordeaux
In summer 1996, after Wiltord's excelled for France at the 1996 Summer Olympics Spanish La Liga club Deportivo de La Coruña reached an agreement with Rennes for him to join from 1 July 1997. As part of the agreement a transfer fee of 300 million pesetas (€1.8 million) was paid to Rennes while Wiltord was loaned back to Rennes for the 1996–97 season. In the summer of 1997, at the end of his spell on loan, he returned to Spain only to request a move back to France so as to link up with Bordeaux. For this transfer a fee of 375 million pesetas (€2.25 million) and a 40% sell-on clause were agreed.
Wiltord was signed by English club Arsenal, for what was then a club record fee of £13 million in August 2000, weeks after scoring the stoppage-time equaliser in the Euro 2000 Final. This record fee was not surpassed until eight-and-a-half years later when Arsenal paid £15 million for Russian winger Andrey Arshavin. Whilst with the Gunners he was occasionally paired with Thierry Henry up front or otherwise upon the wing.
The highlight of Wiltord's Arsenal career was scoring the winning goal over Manchester United at Old Trafford, a 1–0 win which clinched the 2001–02 Premier League title as Arsenal achieved The Double on 8 May. Returning to Old Trafford the following season in the FA Cup, Wiltord netted again as Arsenal saw off United 2-0 in a year where they would also go on to win the Cup.
Wiltord went on to form part of Arsenal's 2003–04 "Invincibles" season, though his appearances were less frequent towards the end of the campaign. During the season he made a total of 12 league appearances, which was enough to earn a title winners' medal. Altogether he played 175 times for the Gunners in all competitions, scoring a total of 49 goals.
In June 2008, Wiltord was voted 33rd in a list of 50 of the greatest Arsenal players of all time.
When his contract with Arsenal expired in the summer of 2004, Wiltord trained for two weeks with Rennes and rejected a move to newly promoted Premier League team West Bromwich Albion. On 31 August, he signed for Lyon on an initial two-year contract. Moving to Lyon, Wiltord found further success, winning three Ligue 1 titles and reaching the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League in successive seasons.
Wiltord signed for Rennes in August 2007 on a two-year contract and with an opportunity to join the coaching staff when he finished his professional career.
He joined Marseille on 15 January 2009 for the remainder of the Ligue 1 season. On 17 May 2009, he scored Marseille's only goal in a 3–1 loss to Lyon at home. He was released at the end of the 2008–09 season, and was considering a possible move to either America, UAE or perhaps retirement.
Wiltord made his debut for France in a 2–0 victory over England on 10 February 1999 at Wembley Stadium. For France, Wiltord has been capped 92 times, scoring 26 goals. His most memorable goal for Les Bleus was scored in dramatic fashion in the last seconds of the UEFA Euro 2000 final against Italy to tie the match 1–1 and bring the game to extra-time. France then won the final from a golden goal scored by David Trezeguet.
Wiltord remained in the national squad for the 2002 World Cup, where France endured a shocking first round exit without a single win or scoring a single goal, the worst ever performance by a defending champion at the World Cup.
Wiltord also took part at UEFA Euro 2004 in Portugal, having played seven games in the qualifying campaign with a fantastic return of six goals. However, a poor performance from Les Bleus saw a shocking quarter-final exit at the hands of eventual surprise winners Greece.
Wiltord also was a part of Raymond Domenech's France squad that played in the 2006 World Cup final against arch-rivals Italy. Wiltord scored France's first penalty in the ensuing penalty shootout following the 1–1 draw, but France would lose the shootout 5–3.
It is noteworthy that Wiltord is the most capped French international football player among those that did not take part in Les Bleus' triumphs at a FIFA World Cup.
Wiltord is also France's tenth highest scorer with 26 goals netted for Les Bleus.
In 2015, he competed on the TF1 reality show Dropped, in which sportspeople were dropped by helicopter into inhospitable environments. The day after his elimination from the programme, there was a mid-air helicopter collision which killed ten, including three contestants—swimmer Camille Muffat, boxer Alexis Vastine and sailor Florence Arthaud. He wrote on Twitter after the crash, "I'm sad for my friends, I'm trembling, I'm horrified, I have no words, I don't want to say anything."
Wiltord was sponsored by sportswear company Nike and appeared in Nike commercials. In a global Nike advertising campaign in the run-up to the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan, he starred in a "Secret Tournament" commercial (branded "Scopion KO") directed by Terry Gilliam, appearing alongside football players such as Thierry Henry, Ronaldo, Edgar Davids, Fabio Cannavaro, Francesco Totti, Ronaldinho, Luís Figo and Hidetoshi Nakata, with former player Eric Cantona the tournament "referee".
|France national team|
- French Footballer of the Year: 1999
- Premier League Player of the Month: August 2002
- UNFP Ligue 1 Team of the Year: 2005 & 2006
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- ; mercato365.com, 18 July 2011
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