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UEFA EURO 2016 will spark fond memories for former France goalkeeper Fabien Barthez, who experienced FIFA World Cup glory on home soil 16 years ago.
Indeed, Les Bleus captured the nation's heart when they topped off a memorable tournament by sweeping aside Brazil 3-0 in the Stade de France showpiece. "I refer to the 1998 finals a lot. It was a real celebration in every city in France," recalled Barthez, who attributed the triumph to a vibrant team spirit created by coach Aimé Jacquet.
"Aimé Jacquet kept us grounded but you could sense a buzz. From the quarter-final stage we started to feel something different in the crowd. We remained focused on the competition, though, thanks to the coach who kept us in a bubble. It was a fantastic time and everyone in the team was united."
Barthez also kept goal for France when they added the European title to their world crown two years later, David Trezeguet's golden goal settling a dramatic Rottterdam final against Italy. "In difficult times football can bring you back to life," said the 42-year-old. "Everyone is hoping the national team can do well. Every major tournament such as a EURO or World Cup is a celebration of football."
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