Andre-Pierre Gignac: The 35-year-old shining at the Club World Cup

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In the summer of 2015, Andre-Pierre Gignac was riding the crest of a wave. The forward had hit 21 Ligue 1 goals for Marseille – his highest goal scoring tally in half a decade and the second best of his career.

He had 21 senior international caps for France and with his Marseille contract up, Gignac was not short of suitors. There was interest from England, Italy and Germany – but the then 29-year-old snubbed them all in favour of a move to Mexican outfit Tigres.

Inter, Lyon and West Ham are teams cited with interest in Gignac, but the unorthodox move to the Liga MX side has paid dividends. Gignac has forged himself an illustrious legacy with Tigres. He is the club’s all-time top scorer, with his three goals in two games setting his side up with a blockbuster clash with Bayern Munich in the Club World Cup final.

But how had the 35-year-old forward’s career panned out prior to Tigres’ adventures in Qatar?

Gignac completed his youth career in the Lorient academy, and made his senior debut as a 19-year-old in August 2004, scoring the winning goal against Chateauroux just moments after his introduction.

“I thought I was Ronaldo,” he said (via the Guardian.)

However, the striker then broke his ankle – and then again, just for good measure – and as Lorient won promotion to Ligue 1, he was loaned out to third tier side Pau. It proved to be a successful stint, and enabled Gignac to force himself into the Lorient first team fold upon his return. He hit a hat-trick on his Ligue 1 debut.

After one season in the top flight, Toulouse and Lille embarked on a transfer tug of war in the summer of 2007 in an attempt to land the powerful forward. He eventually ended up at Toulouse, but he encountered problems with his weight and saw his opportunities to play in his favoured number nine role restricted by a certain Johan Elmander.

Gignac starred for Marseille after leaving Toulouse
Gignac starred for Marseille after leaving Toulouse | Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

But Elmander left for the bright lights of Bolton the following summer – when Gary Megson comes calling what else is one expected to do? – and Gignac was trusted to lead to line. He grasped the opportunity with both hands, finishing as Ligue 1’s top scorer with 24 goals and triggering a senior call up to the France senior side.

In 2010, Gignac moved to Marseille for €16m. His first two seasons with the French outfit were unconvincing, but he really hit his stride during the 2012/13 campaign, hitting 13 league goals – and 16 the following season.

Following his prolific 2014/15 return, Gignac opted to move to Tigres. It was an unconventional move from an unconventional player. But the combative forward has hit 147 goals in 246 appearances for Tigres, won nine major trophies and forged a unique, deep seated bond with the club’s fan base.

His status could eclipse legendary should he guide Tigres to Club World Cup glory.

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