His side might have had their UEFA European Under-19 Championship hopes ended by Spain in the semi-finals but for France captain Malaury Martin the tournament has nevertheless been a "great success."
The 18-year-old AS Monaco FC midfielder has been one of his side's most impressive performers in Austria, scoring twice against Serbia and leading the side with style and panache. "This tournament has been good for us, it's been a great success," he told uefa.com. "The organisation, pitches and crowd have all been perfect and we've all learned a lot. On the pitch we were reasonably happy, so it's been a good experience for us all."
France might have fallen in the last four this year but their record over the years in UEFA youth competition makes positive reading and Martin, who has been involved with the national teams for four years, is perfectly placed to assess the reasons for his country's success. "In France, the academy system is very strong and that's why we've had success," he said. "At national level I've seen a lot of players come and go, three or four who were there at the start are still with us now although I've come across some of the others at club level. Everything changes."
As captain Martin has held a special role in the side, although he attributes much of France's success to Guy Ferrier, adding: "I'm the coach's messenger on the pitch so it's extra responsibility but nothing too exceptional. I have a close relationship with the coach, we've worked together for three years now so we have built up a good rapport. He's a really good coach, he shows a team exactly what to do and we got to the semi-finals of the European championship so that proves his quality."
'Need to play'
He might have emerged with great credit from his time in Austria but at club level Martin has found the going considerably tougher, making only one Ligue 1 appearance for Monaco, and he accepts some difficult decisions lie ahead. "I'd prefer to stay with Monaco as that's where I grew up, but I want to play and I'm at an age where I need to do that," he explained. "Monaco bring in a lot of top-class internationals so it's a lot harder for young players to win a place in the team and I've not had a lot of chances. I'm not sure what will happen but I'll talk to the coach Ricardo [Gomes] and see what he suggests."
What Martin is sure about is that, wherever his future lies, the experiences gathered over the last ten days can only be beneficial. "I've learned a lot from this tournament; I've travelled a lot with this squad so you see other countries and you learn a lot from playing against other nations. Their styles are very different to France; every country has their own way of playing and their national characteristics. We've stayed in the hotel with the other teams here and I've enjoyed that. There's quite a lot of competition it's been a good laugh." They may not be smiling now but, for Martin and his team-mates, the future looks cheerful.
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