Gaël Clichy replaced Patrice Evra in the France team that beat Ukraine and is relishing playing both under coach Laurent Blanc and with "la génération 87", as he tells UEFA.com.
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France coach Laurent Blanc described Gaël Clichy as having "fire in his legs" after the left-back's dynamic display against Ukraine. A Premier League winner with Manchester City FC, the 26-year-old is in the middle of one of the most exciting periods of his career. He spoke to UEFA.com about Laurent Blanc, an exceptional crop of talented French youngsters, and his desire to give the fans something to celebrate this summer.
On replacing Patrice Evra against Ukraine
I only heard I was in the team when we were on our way to the stadium. I didn't feel nervous like I did before my debut a few years ago. I was just happy because I'd been working really hard in training and felt I deserved to play. It was also a reward for all the progress I've made with Manchester City this season. When you win a trophy with your club it gives you a real boost – it makes you even more motivated.
On Blanc restoring harmony
The harmony in the squad right now is down to Laurent Blanc and his staff. He's called up a lot of young players and he shows total faith in them. Many of them had never played for the national team before, so they want to repay the coach for giving them the chance to represent their country. Every player has a lot of respect for him. Let's not forget we're talking about a man who helped France win their one and only world title. He was a great player and has shown with Bordeaux and France he's a good coach too. His coaching career is merely beginning but it's definitely full of promise.
On 'la génération 87'
I think that all the positive things being said about the 1987 generation are justified. Karim Benzema took time to adjust at Real Madrid, but now he's established in a team that contains some of Europe's best players. I really like playing with him because he's one of the best forwards in the world. As for Samir Nasri, I've played with him for four or five years already and we play well together. I'm only just getting to know Jérémy Ménez because I don't watch much football on TV. He definitely has skill. We also have Hatem Ben Arfa on the bench. If we go far in this tournament it'll be down to them because they all have great attacking ability.
On giving the fans something back
We all want to give the supporters something to cheer about after failing to do that at the 2010 World Cup. Even though we're hundreds of kilometres from France there are still fans out here supporting us, braving the bad weather we saw during the Ukraine match. They all stayed right until the end and never stopped singing. We play for our own enjoyment, but we also perform for the fans. We can make the supporters happy and they can make us happy too. When you're standing in the tunnel and you hear the fans singing, it gives you positive energy. That's all a footballer can ask for. You dream of playing in games like these.
On respecting Sweden
No team wants to go home without a single point so we'll have to respect the Swedes. They'll want a result to keep their fans happy. But we can take confidence into the game because we looked good in attack and solid in defence against England and Ukraine. We'll try to come top of the group because that might allow us to avoid Spain in the quarter-finals. That's something we have to consider. But we'll need to be at our best to win.