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Platini reflects on France's first success in 1984

In an all-star France team the inspiration was captain Michel Platini whose nine-goal tally, including two hat-tricks, remains a record. The brilliant talisman analyses France's first success.
Platini reflects on France's first success in 1984
Michel Platini's nine goals at EURO' 84 has never been bettered at a European Championship finals ©Getty Images
 

Final result

The final - 27/06/1984
France2-0Spain
 
  • Stadium: Parc des Princes
  • Place: Paris (FRA)
Semi-finalists
Denmark
Portugal
 

Platini reflects on France's first success in 1984

In an all-star France team the inspiration was captain Michel Platini whose nine-goal tally, including two hat-tricks, remains a record. The brilliant talisman analyses France's first success.

Few major tournament wins have captured the imagination like France's 1984 UEFA European Championship success on home soil. In an all-star team, the inspiration was captain Michel Platini whose nine-goal tally, including two hat-tricks, remains a finals record, capped by his opener in the decider against Spain. It was a special moment for Michel Hidalgo's side after penalty heartbreak by West Germany in the FIFA World Cup semi-finals two years earlier. UEFA President Platini recalls a memorable triumph.

France had a very good tournament. We were superior to everybody and expressed ourselves on the pitch
Michel Platini

Historic achievement...
It was the first official title won by France in a team sport, so it was a great moment for French football and for French sport as a whole. For us, it was also symbolic after the rather special defeat we had suffered in the World Cup semi-final in Seville against Germany. Other than that, France had a very good tournament. We were superior to everybody and expressed ourselves on the pitch.

Room for improvement...
I don't think I was at the summit of my career at that point because if you want to stay at the top, you have to last a long time. But it was the only final tournament where I wasn't injured. In 1982 I was injured – I had a groin problem – and in 1986 I was injured – with a nerve problem. In 1984 I wasn't injured and I was able to perform to my peak.

France's emergence…
I think we began to believe we belonged in the latter stages of major tournaments when, during the 1982 World Cup, we lost the semi-final against Germany. We reached a point where French football could honestly say 'hey, we're good'. Before that match we didn't know. We came through some difficult games in 1982 but when we lost that semi-final we realised we were really a good football team and convinced ourselves we were capable of winning the European Championship in 1984. What's more, in Michel Hidalgo we had a very good coach – under him, we played some wonderful football.

The coach, Michel Hidalgo…
Hidalgo implanted his footballing philosophy. His wish was to play attractive, attacking football based on good technique and good players. He created a midfield with four creative players who could hit a pass at any time. He had some ball-winners but he had a team that was technically very strong and intelligent; that knew how to position themselves on the field, how to get back and defend but, above all, they had an attacking philosophy. One of the great merits of Michel Hidalgo was finding a way to fit several No10s into midfield.

Triumph through adversity…
I think that we were genuinely better than the others but we encountered difficulties. Against Portugal [in the semi-finals] we should have been leading 2-0 or 3-0 but they made it 1-1 and then 2-1. We got into the last seven minutes of extra time and we had tremendous will to win; especially as Jean Tigana told us he had never won a penalty shoot-out! We knew we had to avoid going to penalties!

Tigana was the one who crossed the ball from the right at the end of the match and I was the one in the centre who hit the ball into the net. That was an exciting game in Marseille and the crowd was wonderful. The final was even more difficult because Spain played very well. Then we had that chance from the free-kick and [Luis] Arconada made a small mistake. For once it wasn't against us.

The legacy...
It's difficult to compare the teams from 1984 and 2000 because the players were not the same; the playing systems were not the same. I would say the 2000 team had more international experience because practically all the players were playing abroad. In 1984, I was the only one playing for a foreign team. You could say that the 1984 team had come through the 1982 and 1978 World Cups and, in a way, the 2000 team are an indirect result of that generation who have, by and large, stayed in French football.

In 1978 there was no one to give us advice; not from, for example, the 1958 team – because it was a lovely team we had in 1958. There was no continuity and we could say that the current state of French football dates back to the 1970s – around 1976 – when we started to win matches. We won a European title; we went to a World Cup; and the players have stayed in the game. We're talking about people who have gone into coaching such as Tigana, [Alain] Giresse, [Luis] Fernandez and [Bernard] Genghini. They've all continued as coaches and I think their experience contributed to the teams from 1998 and 2000.

Last updated: 15/05/12 10.28CET

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