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The former France boss' obsession with astrology stars is the latest of our series chronicling the extraordinary power of belief

Perhaps France’s disastrous showing at the 2010 World Cup (they were eliminated at the first knockout stage) was written in the stars. If so, their eccentric coach Raymond Domenech should have foreseen it, due to his obsession with astrology.

Domenech had a particular mistrust of Scorpios and, when he took over from Jacques Santini in 2004, the international career of then Arsenal star Robert Pires (a Scorpio) was, to all intents and purposes, curtailed. “I must be annoying him. It’s like I’m 20 years old and playing football for the first time,” explained a mystified Pires who’d just gone through the league season unbeaten with the Gunners. Despite some fine displays for Spanish club Villarreal after leaving Arsenal in 2006, Domenech never selected Pires again for the national side.


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He wasn’t especially keen on Leos either. “When I have got a Leo in defence, I’ve always got my gun ready, as I know he’s going to want to show off at one moment or another and cost us,” he claimed in 2008. It didn’t stop him from showing a degree of pragmatism and selecting defenders William Gallas or Gael Clichy (both Leos) for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but Domenech hinted heavily that the horoscope may have adversely affected events. “All parameters have to be considered and I have added one by saying there is astrology involved.”

"When I have got a Leo in defence, I’ve always got my gun ready, as I know he’s going to want to show off at one moment or another and cost us"


Presumably, Domenech was forced to seek solace in the stars after Nicolas Anelka’s expletive laden tirade at his coach saw him banished from the squad, and team captain Patrice Evra’s spat with trainer Robert Duverne, after which the players returned to the team bus and refused to continue with practice. “I think I know where Domenech should shove his tarot cards,” claimed one unnamed French World Cup star.

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