Sylvain Wiltord

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.[4]

Sylvain Wiltord
Wiltord training with Rennes in 2008
Personal information
Full name Sylvain Claude Wiltord[1]
Date of birth (1974-05-10) 10 May 1974[2]
Place of birth Neuilly-sur-Marne, France
Height 1.74 m (5 ft 9 in)[3]
Playing position Right winger[4]
Youth career
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1991–1996 Rennes 91 (28)
1996–1997 Deportivo La Coruña 0 (0)
1996–1997Rennes (loan) 35 (3)
1997–2000 Bordeaux 99 (46)
2000–2004 Arsenal 106 (31)
2004–2007 Lyon 82 (20)
2007–2009 Rennes 31 (6)
2009 Marseille 13 (1)
2010 Metz 15 (3)
2011–2012 Nantes 33 (8)
Total 505 (146)
National team
1999–2006 France 92 (26)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Wiltord had a four-season spell at Arsenal, with whom he won two Premier League titles and two FA Cups. He also won the Ligue 1 title at Bordeaux and in each of his three consecutive seasons at Lyon.

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.

Club career

Early career, Rennes and Bordeaux

Wiltord's career began at Rennes, where he emerged in 1993–94 with eight goals in 26 games.

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.[5] As part of the agreement a transfer fee of 300 million pesetas (€1.8 million) was paid to Rennes[5] 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)[5] and a 40% sell-on clause were agreed.[6]

He was ever-present in his first term at Bordeaux and went on to score 22 goals in the following 1998–99 season, where he won the golden boot as Bordeaux lifted the Ligue 1 championship.[7]


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.[8] 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.[9]

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.[10] 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.[11]

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.[12] Altogether he played 175 times for the Gunners in all competitions, scoring a total of 49 goals.[9]

In June 2008, Wiltord was voted 33rd in a list of 50 of the greatest Arsenal players of all time.[9]


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.[13] 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.[14] He was released at the end of the 2008–09 season, and was considering a possible move to either America, UAE or perhaps retirement.[15]


On 30 January 2010, Wiltord signed with Metz until the end of the season.[16]


On 18 July 2011, Wiltord came back from retirement and signed a contract at Nantes until the end of 2011–12.[17] He announced his immediate retirement on 11 June 2012.[18]

International career

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.[19]

Personal life

Wiltord's parents moved from Martinique to metropolitan France before his birth.

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."[20]


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".[21][22]

Career statistics



Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League Cup League Cup Continental Other[24] Total
Rennes1992–93Division 22020
1994–95Division 1265265
1996–97 (loan)3532030403
Total 1263130530013434
Bordeaux1997–98Division 134112451204316
Total 994664812291013660
Arsenal2000–01Premier League27866101314715
Total 106312010754032017549
Lyon2004–05Ligue 12532200863511
Total 822062222480011432
Rennes2007–08Ligue 1256211040327
Total 31621216000418
Marseille2008–09Ligue 1131100000141
Metz2009–10Ligue 2153000000153
Nantes2011–12Ligue 2338001000348
Total 50514638172512922030663195


France national team

International goals

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 31 March 1999 Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France  Armenia
UEFA Euro 2000 qualifying
2. 5 June 1999 Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France  Russia
UEFA Euro 2000 qualifying
3. 29 March 2000 Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland  Scotland
Friendly match
4. 6 June 2000 Stade Mohamed V, Casablanca, Morocco  Morocco
2000 King Hassan II International Cup Tournament
5. 11 June 2000 Jan Breydel Stadium, Bruges, Belgium  Denmark
UEFA Euro 2000
6. 2 July 2000 Feijenoord Stadion, Rotterdam, Netherlands  Italy
UEFA Euro 2000
7. 4 October 2000 Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France  Cameroon
Friendly match
8. 15 November 2000 BJK İnönü Stadium, Istanbul, Turkey  Turkey
Friendly match
9. 24 March 2001 Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France  Japan
Friendly match
10. 25 April 2001 Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France  Portugal
Friendly match
11. 30 May 2001 Daegu World Cup Stadium, Daegu, South Korea  South Korea
2001 FIFA Confederations Cup
12. 3 June 2001 Munsu Cup Stadium, Ulsan, South Korea  Mexico
2001 FIFA Confederations Cup
13. 7 September 2002 GSP Stadium, Nicosia, Cyprus  Cyprus
UEFA Euro 2004 qualifying
14. 12 October 2002 Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France  Slovenia
UEFA Euro 2004 qualifying
15. 16 October 2002 Ta' Qali Stadium, Ta' Qali, Malta  Malta
UEFA Euro 2004 qualifying
16. 29 March 2003 Stade Félix-Bollaert, Lens, France  Malta
UEFA Euro 2004 qualifying
17. 26 June 2003 Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France  Turkey
2003 FIFA Confederations Cup
18. 20 August 2003 Stade de Genève, Genève, Switzerland   Switzerland
Friendly match
19. 6 September 2003 Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France  Cyprus
UEFA Euro 2004 qualifying
21. 28 May 2004 Stade de la Mosson, Montpellier, France  Andorra
Friendly match
23. 13 October 2004 GSP Stadium, Nicosia, Cyprus  Cyprus
2006 FIFA World Cup qualification (UEFA)
24. 12 October 2005 Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France  Cyprus
2006 FIFA World Cup qualification (UEFA)
25. 1 March 2006 Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France  Slovakia
Friendly match
26. 25 April 2006 Stade Félix-Bollaert, Lens, France  Denmark
Friendly match








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