‘I received World Cup and Euros however showing in The Bill was much more nerve-racking’

Emmanuel Petit found strutting his stuff on the pitch a breeze compared to his stint in a British TV drama.

The World Cup and Euros winner was at the peak of his powers when he got a baffling invite to star as himself in The Bill, the legendary police drama that had the nation gripped from 1984 to 2010. The Arsenal hero, who wasn’t clued up about the show, was left scratching his head over the offer, but took it on anyway.

The midfielder showed up at a hospital during a festive episode with flowers and a signed ball for a Gunners-supporting patient. The Frenchman had a brief exchange with the patient’s parents before sitting bedside.

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“To be honest, I didn’t know about The Bill,” Petit told the Mirror. “When I was asked, I was a little bit confused because I’m not an actor, I cannot act. I was born to be a footballer, not an actor.

“I remember going to the hospital and holding a rose for a person who was sick. I met her parents outside the room and said ‘it was very important for me to be here’, something like that. It was a very short.”

Petit admitted the scene left him more jittery than playing in front of thousands. He recalled: “Someone told me I looked less nervous on the pitch when I play in a World Cup or a European competition than trying to act for a few minutes in The Bill!

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Emmanuel Petit's France had to see off Luis Figo and Portugal in the semi-finals of Euro 2000
Emmanuel Petit in action against Portugal at Euro 2000, which France went on to win

“I said, ‘yes, because I’m not comfortable’. I cannot control my emotions for that. I’m not an actor and people saw that. But it was a very short scene, which was OK for me.”

However, he looks back on the experience with fondness. He said: “After I did it, my team-mates came up to me, especially the English guys, and said ‘you’ve done this with The Bill, it’s amazing, it’s huge here in England’.

“I was like, ‘I don’t know, is it? ‘. I thought it was on TV at Christmas time, I didn’t know it was so huge. It’s not on TV anymore, I’m told. But I was very happy to do it because the people were so nice to me.”

Emmanuel Petit was speaking on behalf of BetMGM. Play the new £2million Golden Goals game by predicting Euro 2024 scores at BeGambleAware 18+