Lilian Thuram today became the latest France player to make himself available for an international recall, following on from Zinedine Zidane and Claude Makelele who did likewise last Wednesday.
All three players retired from international football in the wake of the UEFA EURO 2004™ quarter-final defeat by Greece, and all three are likely to feature in the 17 August friendly against Ivory Coast in Montpellier. The 33-year-old Thuram represented France with distinction over 103 caps, scoring both his goals in the 1998 FIFA World Cup semi-final victory against Croatia in Paris.
Les Bleus went on to see off Brazil in that final and added the European crown in the Low Countries in 2000. They were among the favourites to triumph again in Portugal last summer only to fall 1-0 to Greece in Lisbon. Thuram stood down soon after, saying the decision was "unchangeable". However, despite initial hesitation, he has decided to have another go.
Speaking today about receiving a phone call from France coach Raymond Domenech, the Juventus FC defender said: "There was a moment of misunderstanding when I received the call but no reluctance. Domenech is the coach and he needs me - I must make sure he has the best players available. A French player cannot refuse playing for France."
Domenech, who will hand Zidane the captain's armband against the Ivorians, added: "The essential thing is that the players all wanted to come back. Last year they were worn out and fed up." France are next in competitive action on 3 September when they resume their World Cup qualifying campaign against the Faroe Islands.
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