Known as Les Bleus, France’s national team has long produced fabulous players and has seen legendary football moments of the highest level From Just Fontaine’s untouchable record of 13 goals in a World Cup tournament in 1958, to Michel Platini leading France to its first Euro title in 1984 and the reigning period of Zinedine Zidane, Les Bleus are always a strong candidate to win titles and to watch out for.
And yet, it has taken long periods of time until success came knocking in the shape of trophies. When the Platini and the marvelous midfield generation he had around him ended, it has taken another 14 years for a new generation of players to emerge and a first (and only, at least for now) World Cup trophy. For the last 30 years, France's national team has entered a major tournament – each major tournament – as one of the favorite teams to win it all. This is a clear indication of having breed and raised generations of gifted players in Clairefontaine – France's Technical Youth Academy
France did not quality to the 1950 World Cup in Brazil but due to Turkey's difficulties to raise enough money for their journey to Brazil, FIFA invited France instead. After the French agreed to participate, they withdraw from the competition after failing to raise the required money for the trip.
Fast forward to 1984. This was the year everything changed, the year France stood for the first time on the winner's podium. This time around, Platini was surrounded in the midfield by Luis Fernandez, Jean Tigana and Alain Giresse. This time around, there were no excuses, let alone when Euro 1984 was held in France. The 2-0 win over Spain in the final was an evidence that France was finally able to produce winners, not only gifted players. And if that wasn't enough, France won an Olympic gold medal in the summer Olympics were held that year in Los Angeles.
It's not a surprise that four years later, in 1988, the France Football Association opened Clairefontaine. The youth academy, in which the country's finest young footballers train under the guidance of the best coaches. It is not a surprise that ever since, although the national team sometimes failed and disappointed during major international tournaments, France has produced elite young players, that keep it in consideration for most major titles.
It took another 14 years for the national team to be finally crowned as Champions of the world. The 1998 World Cup win in Paris showed the world a new generation of players that played with such a flair and efficiency, that they not only surprised the reigning champions Brazil, but also the entire world. The names of Fabian Barthez, Lilian Thuram, Marcell Desailly, Didier Deschamps, Zidane, Patrick Vieira and the rest of the squad will be forever cemented in gold in France football history.
The consequent win of Euro 2000 affirmed the greatness of that team, who reached another final, in World Cup 2006, where it lost to eventual champions Italy in what was Zidane's final and memorable match of football, when he was ejected after head butting an Italian defender.
France hasn't won any major trophies since, but it remained one of the leading national teams in the world of football and its players are well spread across Europe, playing for many of the elite clubs.
Thierry Henry is the all-time top goal scorer of the national team with 51 goals in 123 caps, while Lilian Thuram has the most caps with 142 appearances.
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