French football mourns coaching great Hidalgo

Michel Hidalgo, the coach who led France to glory at the 1984 UEFA European Championship, has died aged 87.

French football mourns coaching great Hidalgo
French football mourns coaching great Hidalgo ©Getty Images

Former France coach Michel Hidalgo passed away on Thursday afternoon in Marseille, four days after his 87th birthday.

Hidalgo inspired a world-class France team between 1976 and 1984, steering a golden generation to 1984 UEFA European Championship glory on home soil – the nation's first major tournament success.

"Michel Hidalgo is one of the biggest names in French football," said French Football Federation (FFF) president Noël Le Graët. "Through his style of play, his personality, his exemplary passion, he contributed to the influence of our sport at international level, and to its popularity in France. He managed to inspire in us incredible emotions that will stay with us forever."

Hidalgo celebrates EURO success with his team
Hidalgo celebrates EURO success with his team©Getty Images

Beaten by West Germany in the 1982 FIFA World Cup semi-finals, Hidalgo's ebullient side – led by the inspired Michel Platini – responded in magnificent fashion at EURO two years later. They won all three of their group stage games, beat Portugal after extra time in the semi-finals and then calmly disposed of Spain in the decider.

Hidalgo made way for his assistant Henri Michel after the final, but remains a major figure in the history of French football as the architect of the "carré magique" (magic square): the supremely-creative four-man midfield of Platini, Alain Giresse, Jean Tigana and Luis Fernandez which dazzled the world.

A midfielder, initially with Le Havre, Hidalgo played for Stade de Reims in the first European Champion Clubs' Cup final in 1956, scoring in his side's 4-3 defeat by Real Madrid. He went on to win two league titles and two French Cups with Monaco but was capped just once by the national team, in 1962.

After hanging up his boots, he worked for the national players' union and took over as France coach in 1976, having worked as assistant to his predecessor Stefan Kovacs. After the 1984 EURO, he was the France national team's technical director, subsequently taking up a similar role at Marseille before working in the media.

A son of Spanish migrants born in northern France, he eventually retired to the south of the country. Deeply affected by the death of his friend and fellow France great Raymond Kopa in 2017, he reportedly passed away surrounded by his family and close friends.