By Stephen Byrne
The Fifa World Cup begins in Brazil on 12th June and we will be looking at Rovers’ connections with all participating countries.
France have named one player as a standby for their provisional squad, who has played against Rovers in the League.
Morgan Schneiderlin, born in Obernai in November 1989, scored his first Southampton goal when they won 5-1 at The Mem in April 2010. This was the second of three Football League appearances against The Gas between 2009 and 2011.
Rovers have played three matches in France. In March 1909 there was an exhibition match played in Paris against Southampton; leading 2-1 at the interval, Rovers drew 5-5.
In May 1933 Rovers lost 3-1 to AC Milan at the Stade St Maurice in Nice, George McNestry scoring the goal. Four days later, Rovers lost 3-1 to a French XI, McNestry again scoring.
Stéphane Léoni, born in St Mihiel in September 1976, joined Rovers in 1998, having previously won twenty caps for the French Under-21 side whilst with Metz; he played in 27(+11) League games.
Moussa Dagnogo, born in Paris in January 1972 and earlier on the books of Nantes, Pau, Viry Chatillon, Moissy Cramayel, Angoulême and Racing Club de Paris, made his Rovers debut in September 2000. He made two substitute appearances for Rovers.
Alex Jeannin, born in Troyes in December 1977, played for Troyes, Lens and Racing Club Paris before appearing for Rovers at home to Wycombe Wanderers in May 2005.
The fourth Frenchman to play for Rovers and the first to score in the League was Oumare Tounkara, born in Paris in May 1990, who scored twice in 4(+5) League games for Rovers at the tail end of the 2012-13 season.
Guy Ipoua, a Cameroonian French-speaker, played for Strasbourg and Nancy before signing for Rovers in 1998. He played in 15(+9) League games for Rovers in 1998-99, scoring three times.
Jean-Paul Kalala, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, played twice for Nice between 2003 and 2005 before playing in 10(+1) League games for Rovers in the spring of 2011.
Geoff Taylor, who played three times for Rovers in the 1951-52 season, was player-coach at Stade Rennais from December 1949 to September 1951, once playing in front of a 40,000 crowd in a French First Division game against Racing Club de Paris.
Jamie Forrester, formerly with Auxerre, played for Rovers between 2004 and 2006 in a total of 23 (+29) League games, scoring nine goals.
Bobby Gardiner, born in Dundee in 1912, played for Rovers between 1937 and 1939 and for the French club Union Sportive Valenciennes in 1946.
Bruce Bannister, born in Bradford in April 1947, was a hugely popular goal-scoring forward for Rovers with eighty League goals in 202(+4) appearances between 1971 and 1976 and played for Union Sportive Dunkerque for the 1980-81 season.
George Tadman, born in Rainham, Kent in May 1914, scored twice in five League games for Rovers between 1933 and 1935 and coached FC Sète in the 1949-50 season.
Bill Murray, who played in forty League games for Rovers between 1933 and 1935, appeared for Racing Club de Roubaix in the 1937-38 season.
Walter Moyle, who had coached the French club Nîmes for the 1932-33 season, was appointed Rovers' coach on 30th June 1936.
There was a trend between the wars for professional footballers in Britain to move across the Channel and play or coach football in France.
Thirty-one of Rovers' opponents during this period were to feature in the embryonic French leagues, amongst them Fred Pentland, who played for QPR against Rovers in the 1907-08 season, and coached the French national side at the 1920 Olympic Games in Brussels.
Bert Lutterloch was a regular in the Lille side that won the inaugural French Division One in 1932-33 and scored a hat-trick for Aldershot against Rovers in December 1935.
Bill Aitken, who played for Norwich City against Rovers in the 1926-27 season and Stan Hillier, who played for Gillingham against Rovers the same season, both appeared for Cannes when they defeated Roubaix 1-0 in the 1932 French Cup Final; they are Rovers’ only opponents to win the French Cup, though Bill Berry, who played against the club for Gillingham, Crystal Palace and Brentford, coached Nice to victory in the 1954 Final.
Glenn Hoddle, Chris Waddle and Eric Sabin all played League football against Rovers and were on the losing side in a French Cup Final, as was Carlos Bocanegra, who played for Fulham against Rovers in the FA Cup.
John Goodall, with Roubaix in 1908, played for Watford against Rovers in the Southern League in the early 1900s. The winner of fourteen England caps, he scored a Southern League goal against Rovers in March 1906 when just weeks away from his 43rd birthday.
Sid Kimpton scored three goals in his six Southern League matches for Southampton against Rovers between 1911 and 1914, before working as coach at five French clubs. Under his management, RC Paris were French champions once and cup winners twice and he managed the French national side to the 1934 World Cup Finals in Italy.
In recent years, a growing number of French-born players have appeared against Rovers in League football. Since World War Two it would appear that some 104 players who have played against Rovers have also played in the French League.
Sixty players born in France opposed Rovers in the Football League, of whom thirteen have scored, the most recent being Chesterfield’s Armand Gnandouillet in February 2013.
This season, the former Guingamp player Hamza Bencherif (Plymouth Argyle), Yassin Moutaouakil (Pomrtsmouth), Damien Mozika (Torquay united) and Bastien Héry (Rochdale) all played against Rovers in the League, and Alman Abdi, previously with Le Mans, played for Watford against Rovers in the League Cup.
The only French international to oppose Rovers, though, remains Amara Simba, who won three caps and scored twice for France under Michel Platini in 1991-92, his final cap being in a 2-0 defeat against England at Wembley in February 1992, and represented Orient in an FA Cup fourth-round tie in January 1999.