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As every kid born in 1990s, the 1998 world cup is a vague memory and the 2006 head butt is something I would never be able to forget in my life. Yet another volleyball player, who was drawn into this beautiful game by its sheer passion and intensity. For the people watching, the game is 90 long minutes; for the ones who actually play the game, the ball stays with you for not more than 4-5 minutes, sometimes even less. It is what you do during those 4-5 minutes that decides the game. I fell in love with French football after the World cup semi-finals against Brazil. A conductor orchestrating the entire game against the legends of Brazil; that was the game.
France is Considered One of the Most Romantic Footballing Nations.
It has a rich footballing history with both romantic and tragic experiences, spread across decades of years with some iconic players such as Thierry Henry, Eric Cantona, Michel Platini, Zinedine Zidane etc donning the famous blue jersey! Avec Les Bleus, my first introduction was the 1998 FIFA world cup which was held in France during the beautiful European summer! As France were the hosts, expectations from the french football fans were sky high and almost in every street of france you could hear “ ALLEZ LES BLEUS “
France Had Never Won the World Cup!
There was huge pressure and massive expectations on the Les Bleus. It was not a great start for the hosts, as one of their key player Zizou saw red against Saudi and was suspended !! Manager Etienne Jacquet did not panic as his astute changes ensured the blues qualified to group stages. In comes Zizou, the playmaker made an immediate impact, sparkled in the quarters and semis against Italy and Croatia ! Les Bleus were into the Finals !!!
The Hosts Were Set to Face the Football Giant of a Nation, The Samba Boys from Brazil !
A brace from Zizou and a goal from Emmanuel Petit were enough to seal the finals and France became the seventh Nation to win the prestigious FIFA World Cup ! Brazil were outplayed in the Stade de France arena, Zizou became an instant national hero after his spectacular show in the tournament. The country’s romance avec Le foot, just got bigger, better and more romantic ! The famous victory sparked an outpouring of Frenchmen on the streets, not seen since the French Revolution, and the football win was seen as a nationwide victory and not just for French football!
Since Then, The Only Memory that the World has of French Football is the Infamous Head Butt from Zidane
A shame that the year’s Golden ball winner is mostly remembered for this. On paper, the France National team is the strongest with nothing but young stars in them. However, how far do you think the talent and spirit of youth will take them?
France appears this year as a force to be reckoned with.