Franck Sauzee withdraws from Hibs charity match but more star names expected

He had hope to grace the Easter Road turf again, but Hibs legend Franck Sauzée has pulled out of next month’s charity match on health grounds.

The star-studded event, dubbed "Le Match", will still go ahead on Sunday, November 20 as a Sauzee select XI takes on a Hanlon Stevenson Foundation (HSF) side. But the Frenchman has revealed that it is impossible for him to feature and he now hopes to return to Edinburgh at another point in the future.

The 56-year-old former France international, who was the club between 1999 and 2001 and was given a hero’s welcome at Easter Road just a couple of week’s ago, was set to pull his boots on again 21 years after retiring. However, he is suffering from a health problem which means he will have to miss out.

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Sauzée said: “I would like to thank all of the Hibees for the warm welcome I received at the Motherwell match. It was great to be back at Easter Road. Unfortunately, I have a health problem and it will be impossible for me to be with you for Le Match. I need to rest for a couple of months, but I promise I will be back in Edinburgh to support Hibernian.”

Hibs legend Franck Sauzee waves to the crowd on his return to Easter Road for the Hibs v Motherwell match earlier this month. Picture: Ewan Bootman / SNS

Hanlon Stevenson Foundation’s chairman Graeme Cadger added his best wishes to Sauzee and hinted that there could be some more surprises to come in the squad for the fundraising clash, Rob Jones and Dirk Lehmann among the names already announced. “First of all – and on behalf of everyone associated with HSF – I want to wish Franck a speedy recovery,” Cadger said.

“He is a giant of a man, on and off the pitch. My admiration for him as a player has been exceeded by the respect, I have for the way he has immersed himself in our HSF activities and goals. I also know how touched he was by the reception he received from supporters at our dedicated fundraising dinner and on his long-awaited return to Easter Road.

“This will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever had the pleasure of dealing with him, but he urged me not to cancel the match. He said the players involved will love seeing each other again, in addition to playing in front of the Hibernian support once more. We have more than 25 players signed up, with a few more surprises up our sleeves.

“Each of them is committed to helping us generate what we can for causes who need our assistance. The details of this match may have changed but that overriding aim remains. We would like to thank those supporters who have bought tickets so far, plus the individuals and groups who have demonstrated their backing in other ways. We know Franck will be cheering us on from his home in France and we look forward to having him back with us when the time is right.”

Proceeds from this match will go into the local community, ensuring children who need a helping hand are able to enjoy a better Christmas, while assisting low-income families and elderly groups during the winter months. Full details of the match and participants will be released this week.