Didier Deschamps, world champion and coach of the French national team

Didier Deschamps is a former French international footballer, born on October 15, 1968 in Bayonne, in the department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques. Reconverted as a coach since 2001, Didier Deschamps is also the coach of the French national team since 2012. Trained at FC Nantes before joining Olympique de Marseille in 1989, Didier Deschamps has won numerous victories throughout his career. From the Champions League in 1993, to the 1998 World Cup, through the European Championship in 2000 and then to the second victory of the blues during the 2018 World Cup, the record of this French soccer fan is impressive! In this article, we will retrace the incredible career of Didier Deschamps, while revisiting his exceptional career as a player, then as a coach and now as a national coach.

Soccer during Didier Deschamps’youth

During his childhood, Didier’ father was an amateur rugby player at Biarritz Olympique. Didier Deschamps is not very attracted to the oval ball and prefers soccer, but he does not want to join a club, believing that footballer is not a profession. At school, he discovered team sports and tried soccer at the age of 11 by joining the Aviron Bayonnais. Taller and faster than the children of his age, Didier Deschamps joined the youth team as a striker and scored many goals. Quickly outclassed, Didier Deschamps was selected for multiple departmental, regional and even national selections! Didier Deschamps wore the blue jersey for the first time during a trip to Belgium and won the 1982 national cup for minors with his team. Following this victory, Pierre Garonnaire, recruiter for A.S Saint Etienne, offers Didier Deschamps a week’s training course. A few weeks later, it was the turn of FC Nantes who offered him to come and attend a match, accompanied by his parents. Didier Deschamps finally moved to Nantes in the summer of 1982, eager to get a professional contract. At that time, the young soccer player shared the locker room with a certain Marcel Desailly, a player who would later become his teammate at the Olympique de Marseille and also in the French national team.

His football career with FC Nantes (1985-1989)

The beginnings of Didier Deschamps are marked by problems of jealousy within the team, especially with regard to the older players than him. At the same time, Didier Deschamps studied by correspondence and played for the club as a midfielder and then as a libero. The young French soccer hopeful quickly went from two training sessions per week to two sessions per day! Didier Deschamps became captain of the French national team at the age of 16, and at the same time prepared for a Baccalauréat. After two years, Jean-Claude Saudeau, at the time coach of the Nantes team in the first division, wanted to integrate Didier Deschamps into the professional group for the 1985-1986 season. In 1987, Didier Deschamps, who now plays as a central defender, was elected captain and also scored his first goal in Ligue 1. In 1988, at the age of 20, he became a French international at the request of Michel Platini, coach of the French national team from 1988 to 1992. In 1989, after 131 games in the first division and 4 goals scored, Didier Deschamps joined Olympique de Marseille, the famous soccer club chaired by businessman Bernard Tapie.

Didier Deschamps coached Olympique de Marseille between 2009 and 2012
Didier Deschamps coached Olympique de Marseille between 2009 and 2012

Didier Deschamps and Olympique de Marseille (1989-1994)

Didier Deschamps is now playing alongside prestigious players such as Jean-Pierre Papin, Jean Tigana and Chris Waddle, but his debut at the club remains hesitant. However, Olympique de Marseille won the French championship in 1989. Didier Deschamps, on loan from the Phocaean club, will also mark a pause in his career at OM by joining the Girondins de Bordeaux during the 1990-1991 season. But his position as leader in the Bordeaux club did not satisfy him, and he was making efforts to Bernard Tapie to return to OM. Back at Olympique de Marseille, Didier asserts himself as the club’s regular rake and becomes a member of the Marseille team. Following the departure of Jean-Pierre Papin for AC Milan, Didier Deschamps was promoted to captain of OM in 1993 and thus became the youngest captain of a French team to lift the Champions League. The Phocaean club won for the fifth consecutive year the title of French champion that same year. But following the OM-Valencienne affair (suspicion of match-fixing), the club is withdrawn from the French Cup, while being deprived of the European Cup! In May 1994, Didier Deschamps left France to join the prestigious Italian club Juventus of Turin.

His career at Juventus (1994-1999)

Successor of Michel Platini in this mythical soccer club, Didier Deschamps moved to Turin for 3 years but injured his Achilles tendon, he had to wait until February 1995 to officially join the Italian team. Didier Deschamps quickly became an indispensable member of the Juventus team and the end of his first season was marked by a league and cup double. During his stay in Italy, the player will especially improve technically and tactically to win, in 1996, his second Champions League against Ajax of Amsterdam. During the summer of 1996, Didier Deschamps put on the jersey of the French team and became a semi-finalist of the Euro. Zinedine Zidane joined Juventus in 1996, helping Didier Deschamps’ team win the Intercontinental Cup and the UEFA Super Cup. World champion with the blues in 1998 at the Stade de France, his return to Juventus of Turin is however tainted by doping cases within the club and by the absence of titles during this season. In the summer of 1999, the club decided to part ways with Didier Deschamps who now wants to join the British club Chelsea where he meets his partner from FC Nantes, Marcel Desailly.

The end of Didier Deschamps’ career as a player

Chelsea (1999-2000) and Valencia CF (2000-2001) clearly mark the end of Didier Deschamps’ career as a player, even though he won the Euro 2000 with the French national team. However, the player tried a last challenge by signing for Valencia CF in 2000. But because of physical problems and strong competition with other players, the Frenchman totaled only 19 games in all competitions with the club. In 2001, at the dawn of his 33rd birthday, Didier Deschamps decided to put an end to his career as an international player to become a coach. The former player thus integrates his new functions for the new season 2001-2002 within the AS Monaco.

Didier Deschamps and the victory of the French team in the final of the 2018 World Cup
Didier Deschamps and the victory of the French team in the final of the 2018 World Cup

His new career as a coach (since 2001)

In 2001, Didier signed for 4 years at AS Monaco, as coach and technical director of the club. After a catastrophic first season, the new coach is obliged to make concessions to keep his place in the AS Monaco. Thus, he was joined by Jean Petit and Jean-Luc Ettori in 2002. From 2003, the results are felt and the AS Monaco wins the league cup the same year and finishes second in the ranking, behind Olympique Lyonnais. For his third season, his offensive style seduces the players who obtain good results, notably in the Champions League where they finish third in the championship. Didier Deschamps’ coaching career at AS Monaco came to an end in September 2005, following the club’s elimination from the Champions League in the third preliminary round. During the 2006 World Cup, Didier Deschamps becomes a consultant for the radio RMC alongside Louis Fernandez. On July 10, 2006, despite a relegation and a 17-point penalty in the standings, Didier Deschamps returned to Juventus, this time as coach. The Frenchman managed to restore the club’s reputation within a few months, but a disagreement with the club’s sporting director prematurely ended the coach’s mission.

In May 2009, Didier Deschamps signed for 2 years at Olympique de Marseille as a coach. Quickly, the team is maintained in the first 8 places of the championship and wins at the end of March 2010 the league cup against the Girondins de Bordeaux of Laurent Blanc. Crowned French Champion the same year, Didier Deschamps won the trophy for best French coach in 2011. Also in 2011, OM won the Champions Trophy ahead of Paris Saint-Germain and the club qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League. Didier Deschamps extended his contract for 2 years in the city of Marseille but due to a lack of results, the club and the coach made their separation official in July 2012. The day after the departure of Laurent Blanc as head of the blue team, Noël Le Graët, president of the French soccer federation, appointed Didier Deschamps as the new head coach of the French team for a renewable period of two years.

Didier Deschamps, new coach of the French national team

Through his appointment, Didier Deschamps wishes to impose values such as group spirit, collective sense, as well as respect and honor for the country. To do this, he relies on historical leaders such as Patrice Evra or Yohan Cabaye but in 2013, the results achieved by the French team are more than disappointing, even alarming on the eve of the next World Cup 2014. Despite this, the French team reached the quarter-finals where they were eliminated by Germany. Qualified automatically as a host for Euro 2016, the French team only played friendly matches for two years and Didier Deschamps’ contract was extended until 2018, the date of the next World Cup. Following the Sextape affair, which tarnished the reputation of the blue team, the coach of the French team decided not to integrate Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena for Euro 2016. The host team of France starts the competition with the opening match at the Stade de France against Romania. The blues, qualified for the semi-finals, managed to beat Germany but lost in the final to Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo’s men. In 2017, the blues won in Luxembourg and Didier Deschamps integrated the young prodigy Kylian MBappé, then 19 years old, into the group. In October, the blues qualify for the 2018 World Cup by winning the match against Belarus, allowing Didier to extend his contract until Euro 2020 (postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic of COVID). In the 2018 World Cup, the French team takes out Argentina in the round of 16, and beats Uruguay in the quarterfinals. By winning one to zero against Belgium, the team of Didier Deschamps wins its place in the final. On July 15, 2018, the French team won the World Cup for the second time with a 4-2 victory over Croatia. Didier Deschamps became the third man to win a World Cup as a player, then as a coach, behind Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer. Didier Deschamps is also the only Frenchman to have won the World Cup twice. On December 31, 2018, he received the Legion of Honor and in 2019, his contract at the head of the blues was extended until the next World Cup in 2022, which is currently taking place in Qatar.

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