The History of Les Bleus
Few football teams out there are more famous than Les Bleus; it is evident from the fact that the world knows their name in French even though only a small proportion of football fans actually speak the language! Formed back in 1904, France national football team has been continuously impressing fans and spectators around the world and achieving results few can be proud of!
The first official international match of Les Bleus was back in May 1904 in Brussels. They played against Belgium and finished in a 3-3 draw. However, for quite some time France had problems with creating a solid football identity for itself and it was all due to the quarrels between FIFA and the Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques (USFSA), France’s sport union.
July 1930 marks another important event in the country’s national football team’s history. On this date, France appeared in the inaugural FIFA World Cup and won their first ever World Cup match (France 4–1 Mexico). The honours of scoring both the first France’s World Cup goal as well as the first goal ever scored in the World Cup goes to the French player Lucien Laurent. However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that France saw its first golden generation; the team reached semi-finals at the 1958 World Cup. During that championship, a French player Just Fontaine’s goal tally was 13, which is a record that still stands today.
The 1960s and 70s brought about a decline in the situation of the team; many managers changed, and the team failed to qualify for a great deal of international competitions. However, all of that changed when Michel Hidalgo was installed as the manager of the team. His talent combined with spectacular defenders such as Marius Tresor and striker Dominique Rocheteau elevated the team to new heights; they reached 1982 World Cup semi-finals and that match with Germany is considered one of the best matches in the history of World Cup. They also earned their first international honours after winning Euro 1984 that they hosted.
The most glorious years for the team came with Aime Jacquet as manager. Many rising stars, such as Zinedine Zidane, joined the national team, and Les Bleus reached Euro 1996 semi-finals and won the 1998 World Cup 3-0 against Brazil. The instalment of Roger Lemerre as manager helped the team to climb the stairs to glory even further; France won Euro 2000, with Zidane leading the team and becoming FIFA World Player of the Year. This victory meant that France was the first country to hold the winner title for both Euro and the World Cup since West Germany in 1974.
Among the wins and losses that followed, interesting discussions appeared regarding the low percentage of ethnic white Frenchmen in the team. However, sport achievements see no colour, and Les Bleus continues to be an impressive football team up until today. Their most recent achievement is their victory against Croatia (4-2) in the final of the 2018 World Cup.