Zinédine Zidane and Christian Karembeu are already looking forward to UEFA EURO 2016 after France were selected as the host nation for the tournament.
Both were part of the France team that triumphed on home soil at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, and both are eager for that experience to be repeated. "It's simply fabulous to be able to stage such an event in our country," Zidane told UEFA.com. "I had that experience at the 1998 World Cup and I'm happy for all the French people who may not have experienced that event and who can now look forward to this European Championship."
Karembeu – who joined Zidane for the announcement in Geneva, along with a number of high-ranking French officials including president Nicolas Sarkozy and Jean-Pierre Escalettes, the president of the French Football Federation – added: "This event will be a huge party. In 1998 it was not only the French having a party in the streets, but the entire world was there to be part of it."
Having also been victorious at the 1984 UEFA European Championship France have a strong record in tournaments on home soil and Karembeu is optimistic that can be repeated, saying: "[The last two times] we have staged a tournament, we won it. Now I hope we will be ready to compete and win in 2016."
Zidane was in similarly optimistic mood, looking back to 1984 but also forward to the long-term benefits UEFA's decision will have for French football. "This is magnificent," he said. "
We were all full of expectations to see this tournament come back to France after 1984. I experienced it then when I was 12 years old. I was in Marseille and some of the games were fabulous. I then experienced it as a player, and now I'm looking forward to experiencing it as a spectator. This decision is enormous for French football; I'm not sure how many years our football will gain from this decision. Organising this event will be fantastic in terms of our stadium infrastructure and for French sport in general.
"The French supporters and footballers will be able to enjoy an extraordinary experience," Zidane added. "I hope this will be a fantastic moment for everybody, not only for the French but also for all the people that will visit our country, because France will welcome the whole of Europe. I hope this will turn into a festive event."
Karembeu, who with Zidane was part of the squad that followed up the 1998 World Cup success with victory at UEFA EURO 2000, emphasised that the world will be welcome in France in six summers' time, adding: "We invite all football fans to visit our country. We will be there to welcome everybody.
Our country has plenty to offer and everybody should feel at home when visiting France."
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