Memory Lane

Sunday 17 February 2013 09:00

From the past or present, we catch up with a different Fulham personality. This week, it’s our former left-back Franck Queudrue.

Franck Queudrue spent just one season at Fulham – but it was an eventful campaign.

The defender joined the Whites in July 2006 in what was seen as something as a coup for the Club at the time. The left-back slot had been occupied by Wayne Bridge for the second half of the 2005/06 season, but was up for grabs after the on-loan England man returned to Chelsea.

With only one recognised left-back in the senior squad in Niclas Jensen, the Whites were in need of reinforcements. And Chris Coleman plumped for Queudrue, signing the Frenchman from Middlesbrough on a four-year deal.

He made his debut in a 5-1 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford and scored a memorable last-minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw at Charlton Athletic.

But, a seven-game winless run saw Coleman dismissed in April. And it’s fair to say that Queudrue and Coleman’s successor, Caretaker Manager Lawrie Sanchez, didn’t exactly see eye to eye.

When Sanchez got the job on a full-time basis, the writing was on the wall for Queudrue, who made 31 appearances in all competitions during his year with the Whites.

“In my final season at Middlesbrough, I thought I maybe needed a change,” Queudrue told the official website. “Chris Coleman and Steve Kean called me and the feeling between us all was good. It was an easy decision.

“But there was a problem when Chris was replaced and it became difficult. It wasn’t personal but I didn’t agree with the style that Lawrie Sanchez wanted to play and I decided to tell him this. So that was it for me really!

“Instead of not playing, I decided to look for another challenge somewhere else and the move to Birmingham City came through.”

It had all began for Queudrue at RC Lens where, after working his way through the youth ranks, he made his first-team debut as a second-half substitute against Montpellier in October 1999.

“It was a good feeling,” he said. “It’s like the hard work had finally paid off. It was a dream come true. At first you play football just to enjoy the game and when that becomes your job it’s fantastic. You earn money from playing football which is a great feeling.

“When I made my debut, Lens were in a bit of trouble and the coach decided to play some of the younger players. I didn’t start, I came on as a sub in the second half with 15 minutes to go when we were winning 1-0 and we held on for the victory. So it was a great first game. From there I started playing more constantly in the team.”

After just two years with Lens, Queudrue’s stock continued to rise; interest from abroad materialised and he joined Boro, initially on loan in 2001, with the deal becoming permanent a year later.

It could all have been quite different, though, had a proposed switch to Blackburn Rovers gone ahead.

“First of all I had a trial at Blackburn,” stated Queudrue. “At the time, Sam Allardyce - Big Sam - was the manager. They decided they wanted to sign me but my agent was asking a bit too much and the deal fell through. I went back to France but a couple of weeks later I was offered the chance of a trial at Middlesbrough.

“I was there for four days and I still remember it like it was yesterday. Steve McClaren was the manager at the time but because he was assistant to Sven Goran Eriksson’s England side, he wasn’t there. The first one to meet me was the coach Steve Harrison, who we called Big H.

“When Steve McClaren came back from international duty, he watched me on the Monday and the Tuesday and said ‘okay, we’ll do it.’ I went back to France on the Tuesday and came back on Thursday morning to sign the contract and played on the Saturday. Our first game was against Charlton away and we drew 0-0.

“It wasn’t a hard decision for me to come to England but it was maybe tough for my wife as she was pregnant. People say Middlesbrough isn’t the prettiest of places but the people are so warm and friendly. The club, in and around the place, you can feel the warmth and I still have friends there. It was like a family and it was a great place to go. We had a good chairman in Steve Gibson and I’d always wanted to play in England so it was an easy decision.”

Queudrue would go on to help Boro win the League Cup in 2004 – the club’s first-ever trophy – and was also part of the side that reached the UEFA Cup Final in 2006.

“It was a successful time - I had a great five years there,” he mused. “The club had won nothing in 128 years so to win the Carling Cup Final was a proud moment. It was my first trophy as a player as well and it was great to be a part of a real piece of history for the club.”

After 188 appearances in the red and white of Boro, Queudrue headed south for Fulham, before a three-year stint at Birmingham.

Birmingham and Queudrue were relegated in his first season at St Andrew’s, but he bounced back from a well-publicised spat with City co-owner David Sullivan to lead the Blues back to the top flight.

“It was a good experience at Birmingham, I had three good years there,” said Queudrue, who spent a brief spell on loan at Colchester United before returning to where it had all began in October 2010 with Lens.

Two years later he is still strutting his stuff with Paris-based Red Star in France’s third division.

And, at the age of 34, he is beginning to think about what he’ll do when he finally hangs up his boots, with a move into management something Queudrue is aiming for.

“I’m not finished as a player yet; I’m at Red Star and I’m enjoying it,” he stated. “But when I do retire, I want to stay in football. I plan to take my coaching badges at the end of this season or the next.

“I would go wherever a job was. I would rather be a manager than a coach as then you’ve got no-one else to blame. You can’t find any excuses if you don’t succeed.”

With that sort of mentality, coupled with his fearless desire on the field, you wouldn’t bet against Queudrue becoming a success in the dugout.