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Peroxide-coiffured Auxerre striker Djibril Cisse is living proof that blonds really do have more fun.

Certainly the 20-year-old has been enjoying himself this summer. In June he was joint top scorer at the World Youth Cup in Argentina with six goals and he has taken his devastating finishing into the new French League campaign. Cisse sent Auxerre fans into raptures with a four-goal blitz in a 5-0 victory at Rennes, a superb bicycle-kick equaliser against Paris Saint-Germain, and winners against Lorient and Sedan.

With seven goals from the first four games of 2001-02, Cisse can do no wrong, and though it was only 14 months ago that he starred in France’s win at the European Under-18 Championship, some are touting him to be included in France’s World Cup 2002 squad.

Cisse, who joined Auxerre in 1996 from his hometown club Nimes, is attacking talent in its purest form. A front-runner of rare pace, power, agility and panache on the ball, such is his mobility and fearsome shooting that he can threaten defences from almost any position or angle.

Yet Cisse insists he is anything but the finished article. ‘I think I must improve in front of goal,’ he says, somewhat surprisingly. ‘I can still remember the many easy chances I wasted last season. I also must work on my defensive game. I can be lax at closing down opponents. In attacking play, I have the speed to get quickly into the box, but I don’t use it so much to harass defenders on the ball.

‘I don’t want to get ahead of myself. At the start of last season I wasn’t expecting to be a first-team regular, to play 25 games and score eight goals. Everything has happened very quickly for me and I’m proud and happy. But people must not exaggerate. I don’t know if I’m a revelation. I have a lot to learn.’

Inevitably, Cisse’s exceptional ability has not gone unnoticed by Europe’s top clubs. Manchester United and a host of Serie A sides are reported to be admirers, but the youngster clearly believes the time is not yet right to bid au revoir to Auxerre.

‘While I do think about playing abroad, I first want to establish myself as a good player in the French championship. That is the best way to prepare myself for a move to another country.

‘It’s pleasing to be watchedby big clubs, but I haven’t yet played a full season at Auxerre. Now I have to see what I can do over a whole season. Then I will be able to say if I’m ready or not.’

The answer should be in the affirmative.

FACT FILE
Club Auxerre
Country France
Born August 12, 1981, in Nimes
Previous club Nimes
Honours European Under-18 Championship 2000

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