Mickael Madar Interview: 'Howard Kendall Was The Best. He Spoke To Me Like I Was His Son'

Mickael Madar quit playing football 17 years ago in anticipation of living the ‘good life’.

The former Everton striker told the Club’s matchday programme last year why plugging the void created by retirement has proved more troublesome than he expected – and the reason it is impossible to forget his year on Merseyside with manager Howard Kendall. 

Mickael Madar bursts into song.

Volume up.‘Oh Madar-in, oh Madar-in, oh Madar-in Mick Madar’.

“All the fans sang this song. I don’t know if you remember,” he says.

“On my debut at Crystal Palace, my brother was in the ground and he was singing with everybody.

“It was a brilliant moment.

“I liked England.”

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Mickael Madar is the man who “lost the World Cup” but lives without regrets.

He played in three of Europe’s elite leagues, represented France and can lay claim to cult status at Goodison Park.

Madar is 51 now, a prominent football pundit on French television station Canal+ – “I am like Gary Neville or Jamie Carragher” – and is talking from the premises of his one business venture still standing.

“I have a women’s clothes shop, I have had it five years,” says Madar.

“Honestly, I prefer to work in football.”

Indeed, Madar launched a children’s soccer school immediately after he quit playing.

“It was good but everything was very expensive – paying for the facilities and for kids to stay and eat,” he says.

“I stopped after three years. You want to make money at the beginning – not lose it.”


Without Madar’s six goals after he joined Everton in the final days of 1997, the Club’s continuous top-division stay would have ended the following May, punctuated at 44 years.

History, then, should judge his free-transfer signing from Deportivo La Coruna as a masterstroke on the part of manager Howard Kendall.

Even more so given Madar’s relative anonymity in this country when Kendall alighted on the 29-year-old as the cure for Everton’s scoring ills – albeit his low profile reflected more the paucity of foreign football on our television screens than the striker’s pedigree.

In two years at Monaco, for example, Madar played in a side pursuing top domestic honours and counted an assortment of European football’s glitterati as teammates.

Emmanuel Petit, Lilian Thuram, Thierry Henry and Enzo Scifo were all colleagues.

His former managers included Arsene Wenger, Jean Tigana and John Toshack.

In Madar’s view, though, one boss knocked all his others into a cocked hat.

“Howard Kendall, for me, was the best,” says Madar.

“He talked to you like a man and wanted to have a proper relationship with you.

“He spoke with me like I was his son.


“I needed that feeling with my manager to give my maximum on the pitch.

“I was so sad when I heard Howard had died. He was a great personality. He was Everton. Everybody loved him.”

For a period, Evertonians were very fond of Madar, too.

It is mention of his debut goal, 34 minutes into a 3-1 win at Crystal Palace in January 1998, which triggers Madar’s sing-song.

But if his half-dozen strikes in 15 starts were integral to Everton ultimately surviving on goal difference after a final day draw with Coventry City – “The players told me, ‘If we save the Club, run, run, run, everybody will come on the pitch and it will be crazy’... and we ran” – then Madar still rues the one which got away.

Everton were leading Liverpool 1-0 at Anfield courtesy of a goal from Duncan Ferguson – “The best I played with at Everton, he was like a monster, fantastic in the air... a crazy man, but a very, very nice person” – when Madar missed a sitter in front of the Kop.

Liverpool equalised to salvage a draw.

This all happened in February 1998 but time has done nothing to dim Madar’s recall of events.

“It is a bad dream for me,” says Madar.

“I had an incredible opportunity and I missed it.

“For me, it was a very, very bad moment.

“It was easy... because nobody was in the goal. But I shot wide.

“I thought the goalkeeper was in his goal... but he wasn’t.

“The fans liked me, I think.

"But if I scored and we won the derby, they would have liked me more, I am sure.”


Madar reaches for the phrase “bad dream” once more when he discusses the final leg of his career.

Summer 2001 and Madar had fallen out of favour at Paris Saint-Germain, where he’d been since leaving Everton in December 1999.

He was contacted by his former chairman at Cannes, the man who took Madar to the French Riviera from Sochaux in 1992 and was now in the same post at Ligue 2 US Creteil.

“I was not playing enough at Sochaux and needed to leave,” says Madar.

“This guy did not know me but gave me the chance to sign for Cannes.

“We had a very good relationship and he is still my friend.

“When I was in Paris, he asked me to play for Creteil.

“It was not the time for me to play down in the second division.

“But he said, ‘Come to eat with me and we will talk’.

“‘Ok, no problem’.

“I went to a restaurant with him. We ate... and we drank, and drank some more... then he asked me, ‘Mickael, do you want to sign with me?’

“I said, ‘I need to repay the favour, so I will sign for you’.

“I knew he did not have money to pay me. I signed because of my relationship with him.

“I played six months and finished after a red card.”

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01:11

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Madar played only 11 games for Creteil and was sent off twice.

“Everybody wanted to kick me and fight with me,” he says.

“It was not professional. It was not for me.

“To finish my career like that? It was a bad dream.

“But for my chairman, for my friend, it was okay. I needed to do that for him.”

Madar was prolific at Cannes, his goals catapulting the club from Ligue 2 to European qualification in the space of two seasons.

He transferred to Monaco in 1994 and after Euro ’96 went to Spain with Deportivo La Coruna.

Madar relishes the detail of his call up for the England-hosted European finals.

“The manager [Aime Jacquet] did not take David Ginola or Eric Cantona – but he took me,” exclaims Madar.

“He wanted to play with Zinedine Zidane and Youri Djorkaeff... if he put Cantona or Ginola on the bench, they would be in the press and on TV – he did not want that problem.

“I had some quality. But I cannot say I was better than Cantona or Ginola. That would be crazy – and I am not crazy.”

Madar broke his leg playing for Deportivo against Sporting Gijon three days before Christmas 1996, an episode the Parisian reflects on with conflicting emotions.

Being hurt indirectly led Madar to Everton – the fit-again player was not new Deportivo boss Jose Corral’s cup of tea – but also cost him a spot in France’s 1998 world champion squad.

Everton first.


“When I was on the pitch for Everton, I worked all the time,” says Madar.

“I knew it was the minimum expected. I wanted to do my job.

"If I am not good, no problem. But I run and make tackles, everything to make the fans happy.

“The support for Everton – it is impossible. You play away and there are thousands of people with you. At home you have 40,000.

“It is crazy. It is impossible to forget this club. Impossible.”

Impossible to forget France ’98, too.

“I came back from injury too late – so I lost the World Cup,” says Madar.

“I could have been part of that. But you cannot live with regret, that would not be good.

“I see those World Cup winners on television and they have good lives, very good lives.

“But I am not envious. I have my life, they have theirs.

“It is okay for me. No problem.”

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04:27

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Madar concedes life stripped of the rhythm of professional football has presented its problems.

In addition to the soccer schools and clothes shop, he had a restaurant and tried his hand at management with Cannes, operating in the fifth tier and reduced by financial hardship and administrative issues during Madar’s season as boss in 2015-16.

Cannes were deducted points for fielding an ineligible player for the final five minutes of a 3-0 win and missed promotion as a consequence.

“That is how I lost the championship,” says Madar.

“Then the club told me they were going to change everything.

“The chairman left, the directors left.

“And the manager – me – I left, too.

“They sacked me. They sacked me after one year.

“It was a very good experience.”

It is a unique experience Madar has in mind when he thinks again about Kendall.

We return to the former Everton manager via a conversation about how Madar marked turning 50 in May 2018.

“I did nothing,” he says.

“My wife told me, ‘Mickael, we will have a big festival’.

"I said, ‘No, no, no, nothing. If you want to do something, you do it. I will stay alone’.

“I am well now. I play sport every day. I eat well, no junk food. I am very fit.

“I stopped smoking 10 years ago. I live a good life, more than when I was a player.”

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03:48

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The rumours Madar enjoyed a cigarette when he played are grounded in truth, then?

“Yeah, of course, more than 20 years,” he says.

“I did not drink but in England, on the bus home from games, the players would take some beers and we would be playing cards.

“I was with Howard and he said, ‘You can smoke, it is okay, no problem’.

“So I smoked on the bus with Howard Kendall, with my manager. It was crazy.

“It was the English mentality 20 years ago: you could drink, or smoke, or go out, if you were good on the pitch.

“With Howard, it was like that. It was brilliant.”

Madar might live without regret but he can’t deny a sliver of sadness over the brevity of his time with Everton.

“It was too short,” he says,

“I did not want to go but Walter Smith had replaced Howard and did not want me to play.

“I had a two-and-a-half-year contract, a good relationship with Duncan Ferguson and I wanted to stay in England.”

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02:02 Sat 11 Apr 2020

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Madar is settled near Cannes today.

“A small place with the beach and the sun,” he says.

“It is quiet, similar to a small village, which I like.

“When I finished playing in 2002, I thought, ‘Now it is better, I do not need to wake up to go training, then stay in a hotel before the game’.

“I could enjoy life and go on holidays and be with my kids.

“But after one year? It is boring.

"It is the good life – but it is boring.

“I wanted to do something different. But I am not a businessman.

“You do not know real life as a footballer.

“Football is like Eden. It was paradise.

“When you go into the real world, it is harder. The people are different.

“You have some bad people and they want your money, or to make something off you.

“Like Madoff, you know, they don’t want to make something with you. They just want to take your money.

“I made bad choices and bad associations.

“I lost money. But this is how it is.

“If I had the same experiences before I was a player, I think I would have been better.

“Life is difficult. We live in a dream in football, not in a real life.

“It is okay, though. The TV work is okay. But it is better being on the pitch.”