French football mourns Just Fontaine
Wednesday, 1 March 2023
Just Fontaine, the prolific France striker of the 1950s, has died at the age of 89.
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Legendary France and Reims striker Just Fontaine has passed away aged 89. A 1959 European Cup finalist with Reims, Fontaine was renowned for the incredible scoring records he set during the 1950s, and still holds the record for the most goals at a single FIFA World Cup tournament.
Born in Marrakech, Morocco, Fontaine was spotted at USM Casablanca before joining Nice as a teenager in 1953 and helping the club win the Coupe de France in his first season and the league title two seasons later. Forty-two goals in 69 league appearances for Nice prompted Reims to bring Fontaine to the Champagne region, where the prolific centre-forward experienced the best period of his career.
Fontaine was the top scorer in the 1958/59 European Cup with ten goals as Reims reached the final but lost to Real Madrid for the second time, going down 2-0 in Stuttgart. However, he was a three-time French champion with the club and twice top scorer in the top flight, hitting 34 in 1957/58 and 28 two seasons later.
His national team record was even more impressive, with 30 goals in just 21 appearances. 'Justo' is globally renowned as the top scorer at a World Cup with 13 goals in the 1958 event in Sweden, where France reached the semi-finals.
Fontaine turned his hand to coaching with a brief spell in charge of the national team in 1967 and also worked as Paris Saint-Germain's sporting director when they were first promoted to Ligue 1 in 1974, later leading Morocco to third place at the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations. A co-founder of the French players' union UNFP in 1961, he remained a passionate observer of French and international football.
A minute of silence will be observed this weekend ahead of all matches in France. French Football Federation president Philippe Diallo said: "Today, French football is in mourning. It has lost one of its legends."