French Great "Le Roi" Retires

30 September 2005

France captain and Pamesa Valencia player Antoine Rigaudeau has decided to call it quits.

Rigaudeau came out of international retirement to help the French team capture the bronze medal at EuroBasket 2005, which they accomplished on Sunday by beating Spain in Belgrade.

Basketball gave me everything but I feel it's time for me to take some distance
Antoine Rigaudeau
Pamesa, who had extended the player's contract for another year before the EuroBasket, had said on Thursday that Rigaudeau had been granted a one-day leave of absence but on Friday the point guard announced he is retiring.

"Basketball gave me everything but I feel it's time for me to take some distance," said Rigaudeau. "I know what my abilities are."

The 33-year-old is one of the greats in recent European basketball history.

He captured the FIBA EuroLeague crown 1998 with Virtus Bologna in Barcelona, an Olympic silver medal with France in 2000 and the ULEB Cup in 2001 with Bologna.

He was twice a winner of Italy's top flight, as well as a one-time winner of the Coppa Italia.

Nicknamed 'Le Roi', which is French for king, he had hoped to play for France in their EuroBasket qualifiers in 2004 but the injury prevented him from doing so.

He then missed much of last season while recovering from an Achilles injury, however, French coach Claude Bergeaud was a big fan of the player and wanted him involved not only for his talent, but his experience and that paid off handsomely as France upset EuroBasket hosts Serbia & Montenegro in the elimination round and went on to claim the bronze.

Antoine Rigaudeau (France)
Antoine Rigaudeau
He leaves with 127 caps with Les Bleus, the first of which was gained in November 1990. He trained in Cholet before playing with Pau-Orthez between 1995 and 1997. Rigaudeau was voted MVP of Pro A five times, the first when he was just 19 years old, and ultimately moved to Italy to play for Virtus.

After a brief and unsuccessful spell with the Dallas Mavericks in 2003, Rigaudeau returned to Europe and signed for Pamesa.

Having stepped down from the international game two months before EuroBasket 2001 in Turkey due to a conflict with the French Basketball Federation, Bergeaud was desperate to get him involved, especially with uncertainty over Tony Parker's availability.

Rigaudeau, overall, had a good EuroBasket but he did miss vital free throws in the semi-final against Greece,  which helped their opponents to fight back from a seven-point deficit with 43 seconds remaining to win 67-66.

Rigaudeau took the defeat very hard and tried to shoulder the blame.

"I am proud and happy with my career and the battles I have taken part in, especially at the 2000 Olympics where we won a historic medal," Rigaudeau said.

"Now I am ready to take up new challenges that will allow me to dedicate myself fully."

Basketball's governing body in France have opened the door for the great to remain involved in the game. They said in a statement: "The French Basketball Federation wants to congratulate and to thank Antoine for what he has given to French basketball, something which will remain inscribed in the history of this sport.

"It's for this very reason the federation will study with Antoine the different opportunities for a future collaboration with the federation."

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