Michel Platini laid bare his anger at his spectacular downfall on Thursday, breaking his silence to accuse FIFA bosses of wanting to destroy him and claiming Sepp Blatter "always said I'd be his last scalp".
Former UEFA boss Platini and erstwhile ally Blatter – once the most powerful man in football as FIFA president – were both banned from football in December 2015 over a payment of two million Swiss franc ($2 million, 1.8 million euros) authorised by Blatter to his one-time heir apparent.
Platini's orignal ban was cut from eight years to six and then to four by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Speaking publicly for the first time since he vowed in May 2016 to fight to clear his name after the CAS ruling, the former France football star gave senior FIFA officials and Blatter both barrels.
"They were looking for something to destroy me with," Platini, 61, told the French newspaper Le Monde, when asked if he felt that FIFA has trained its sights on him.
"Various in-house affairs at FIFA were exploited by the people who pulled the strings.
"I lived in the hope that they would tell the truth, but it never happened."
Platini was responding to suggestions that Marco Villiger, a close associate of Blatter and a FIFA legal director, had informed prosecutors of the controversial payment, chief among a series of corruption scandals that rocked FIFA and triggered his and Blatter's ousting.
Asked about Blatter, 81, who had been head of FIFA since 1998, Platini added: "He's the biggest egoist I've ever seen in my life. He always said I'd be his last scalp."
"He thought he would grow old, finish, die and be buried in FIFA, it was his wish,"
Blatter was "a fascinating person" and "exceptional political animal", Platini added.