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Olivier Giroud on becoming France's record goalscorer, why he knew his chance would come and hopes for the near future

Olivier Giroud discusses surpassing Thierry Henry to become France's record goalscorer in December, and the "indescribable sense of joy" it gave him.

Olivier Giroud celebrates his landmark goal for France against Poland
Olivier Giroud celebrates his landmark goal for France against Poland Getty Images

Olivier Giroud was 25 before he made his France debut but sometimes good things really do come to those who wait. In December, aged 36, he overtook Thierry Henry to become France's 52-goal record scorer, adding his 53rd next time out against England to take Les Bleus into the FIFA World Cup final.

As he prepared for the start of France's UEFA EURO 2024 qualifying campaign, he discussed his stellar international career with UEFA.com and warns he's not done yet.

European Qualifiers: France's fixtures

Can you describe your first goal for France? 

My first goal for the France national team came against Germany in Bremen. It was my first start for Les Bleus, in February 2012, and we won 2-1 against a very good German side. The goal came from a Mathieu Debuchy pass from the right. I was positioned just onside between two defenders. He found me by playing it through the lines – a great pass – and I side-footed it in. To score in my very first start was a relief.

Giroud celebrates his first France goal in 2012
Giroud celebrates his first France goal in 2012AFP via Getty Images

Did you ever imagine that – 11 years later – you would be France's record scorer?

No! I never thought I would go on to score so many goals nor that I would play for France for so long. When I look back at the path I've trodden, I say to myself, 'Wow'. Because there has been a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifices, lots of tough moments that made me grow. But also so much joy from wearing this blue shirt, so much pride. When I look back, I realise just how far I've come, and I tell myself, 'It's amazing'.

Were there moments where you thought you'd missed the boat?

I was 25 when I made my [international] debut. I got there step by step, building myself up; I needed time to do so. It's not as uncommon a journey as you'd think. It's very rare to have players of 18, 19 who explode onto the scene at the very highest level. I was aware of my qualities and my room for improvement. I finished Ligue 2 top scorer, then won Ligue 1 and was top scorer with Montpellier. Next came Arsenal, Chelsea – a progressive rise.

How did it feel to break Thierry Henry's France goals record against Poland?

It brought an indescribable sense of joy. I was so relieved. Our opponents had missed two or three chances, and then my moment arrived. Kylian [Mbappé] made a great pass between the lines and I finished the job. I'd done it! I felt a huge amount of pride. I thought of Titi Henry and, of course, of my family, my children, my relatives, my brother and sister, my parents. When I went into the changing room I got an amazing reception.

Giroud's best France goals

Now you have ticked that one off, what motivates you?

I'm a very competitive person. I always want more. I have that determination, a resilience and hunger to go and get more. I want to get as much out of it while I can, because I know I'm going to miss football when my career is over. For as long as my body allows, I'm going to give it my all and do my bit for this team. As long as my body and mind are able, there are no limits to what I can do.

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