Didier Deschamps | Champion again
He was there on 12 July, 1998, and again on 15 July, 2018.
One man is the link between the two championing decades; he symbolizes the two French triumphs. It is Mareseille legend and France stalwart, Didier Deschamps. Twenty years ago, honored with the captain's armband, he raised the World Cup trophy. On Sunday, he savored the moment that Hugo Lloris lifted the Jules-Rimet Cup toward the stormy Moscow sky.
The coach repeats that "The victory belongs to the players," his influence and his impact deserve just as much praise.
His coronation is the result of a life of difficult decisions and sacrifices. Contrary to common thought, Didier Deschamps was not born under a lucky star. His attitude gave himself the means to reach for the stars, though.
He too, like most, experienced difficult times in his life
He took his knocks. Personally and professionally. Like the tragic disappearance of his brother in a plane crash in 1987: "We live with it. We live without him, especially ... It's part of the challenge, the hardships of life. But we do not forget, it will never go away," he confided to Michel Denisot some time ago.
Attentive to every detail, Didier Deschamps manages his business with the meticulous precision of a Swiss watchmaker. This was the case when he was a player when his monk-like life was entirely dictated by football. Raised in the "beautiful game" and reinforced by Jean-Claude Suaudeau in Nantes, he developed a different mentality, more aggressive, arriving in Marseille in 1989.
It was here that he became the best but also experienced the worst - alongside Papin, Mozer, Waddle and Tigana - OM was eliminated in the semi-finals of the European Cup by the "Hand of Vata" in Lisbon. Sparta Prague blocked the road to the Champions League crown in the autumn of 1991.
Loaned in Bordeaux (1990/91), he returned to Marseilles more mature
Bernard Tapie did not hold many plans for him, except for a possible transfer in the summer of 1991. Didier Deschamps wanted to stay at OM to make it his mark. Eventually, that's what he managed to do, pushing midfielders Franck Sauzée and Jean-Philippe Durand out of their starting positions.
A year later, he claimed the captain's armband early into the new season. The "Nantes game" gave way to more pragmatic, more conquering, and more effective football.
On May 26, 1993, in the heat of Munich, it was Deschamps who is responsible for lifting the "Big-Eared Cup." It was his first big trophy. It was followed by more Champions League trophy and two finals (1996, 1997 and 1998) with Juventus, the World Cup (1998) and the Euro (2000) with Les Bleus.
Inside the technical box for Monaco, Juventus and OM and now the Blues, Didier Deschamps applies the same philosophy as his playing successed. However, his career is also marked by painful moments.
But the best interest of the collective - of the team - guide his decisions. Arbitrations that have, often wrongly, animated or even chronicled the good despite himself. And to consider that Didier Deschamps could make choices for a personal purpose or to flatter his ego, is totally incorrect.
When it comes to the best interests of his team, DD is ready for everything
As when it comes to the controversial "Benzema" subject that Deschamps faced in his group at his start as the head of Les Bleus in 2012 quickly became a non-issue.
Again, for example, when Andre-Pierre Gignac was called upon by Deschamps for Euro 2016, while the two men were at odds in the 2011-12 season after a Champions League match against Olympiakos that saw Deschamps not start the Olympien striker - who now plays in Mexico. After joining Crystal Palace, Steve Mandanda was no longer called up before being summoned again after his return to goal with OM.
He is also accused of playing a "conservative" game. He has always explained that experience is a major asset, but he has never hesitated to give a chance to young players like Evra, Squillaci or Givet in Monaco and Varane, Pogba, Martial, Coman, Dembele, Hernandez, Pavard, Kimpembe or Mbappé. Throughout Les Bleus, his touch is prevalent.
A disciple of Suaudeau, inspired by Aimé Jacquet and influenced at the technical level by Marcelo Lippi, Didier Deschamps perfectly symbolizes a quote from Pelé: "Whoever thinks that victory does not count will never win anything."
Because for him, victory is the only thing that counts.