France's recent achievements in men's youth football have brought the FFF the Maurice Burlaz Trophy with Willy Sagnol telling UEFA.com: "It's the first time, and we're honoured."
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France have won the 2013 Maurice Burlaz Trophy, the prize awarded to the national association that has achieved the best results in UEFA's men's youth competitions over the previous two seasons and which is named after the Frenchman and former vice-chairman of the UEFA Youth Committee.
The trophy was presented to French Football Federation (FFF) representative Willy Sagnol at the UEFA youth competitions draw ceremony at the House of European Football in Nyon on Thursday. The prize has been awarded to European national associations since 1990, on the basis of results obtained in the UEFA European Under-17 Championship and the UEFA European U19 Championship over the previous two seasons.
This is the first time France have received this honour, with Spain having taken the prize eight times and Portugal and Germany twice each. France were 2013 runners-up and 2012 semi-finalists at U19 level and their U17s also qualified in 2012, and Les Blues also won the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey, only the second time the trophy has been lifted by a European nation since 1991.
Sagnol told UEFA.com: "It's the first time, and we're very honoured, it's reward for the work which is done with our young players, and it is, in particular, a great source of motivation to continue to work even harder.
"We obviously know that players at the age of 18, 19, 20 have to work hard to reach the higher levels, so we must continue to be serious in our work. We have fine generations of players who are coming up – now we need the support of the clubs, which is important. The secret of success is a good relationship between the association and the clubs.
"To succeed, you have to 'love' the players, because if you don't 'love' them, you can’t train them well, and we are lucky, because football is the No1 sport, and we have a lot of youngsters, and a lot of quality straight away. So we have an opportunity to be able to work together with groups of 30, 40, 50 players very quickly."
Roll of honour