The 1998 World Cup organised by France was the seventh that I have attended in my professional career.
I have splendid memories of all the other tournaments, some of them unforgettable moments related to the games themselves, others more to do with spending a month in a foreign country and experiencing another society with different customs.
From that point of view, the fact that this year's Cup was in my home country deprived me of the travel and the overseas glamour to which I had become accustomed. Unlike a football team, "playing at home" for a journalist does not have the same advantages – there is much less sense of involvement.
But having said that, and it is not without importance, this World Cup provided me with the most moving moment of all on 12 July, when France beat Brazil 3:0 in the Final. Before then I had never jumped to my feet in a crowded stand to applaud any action whatever on the pitch, not even the most spectacular ones. Neither France-Germany in 1982 in Seville, nor France- Brazil in 1986 in Guadalajara had me out of my seat, even though I was enthralled by both of these games.
But leap to my feet I did on 12 July when Emmanuel Petit scored the third French goal. This departure from my normal professional demeanour was all the more surprising since by then the game was long decided. But there I was on my feet with the rest of France, cheering for all I was worth.
What was I cheering for?
Obviously for the team, prepared by Aimé Jacquet, their style of play and their panache and generosity.
I was cheering for the remarkable spirit instilled into the French Organising Committee by Fernand Sastre and Michel Platini.
I was cheering the fact that after our country had been the birthplace of FIFA and of the World Cup and of the European Cups, we had at last won THE TITLE, which had eluded us since it all started at the beginning of the century.
I was cheering – in anticipation – for the big friendly party that would be improvised throughout France – there has never been anything like it since the Liberation celebrations. And above all, I was cheering for football.
I do not think that there is any other activity anywhere that is so strongly and so naturally in resonance with the aspirations of all the men and women on the planet.
It speaks to them about themselves, about the human condition, with an intensity that one would not suspect.
From the first minute to the ninetieth, even through to penalty-shooting, it speaks to them of hope.
Behind an appearance that at times might seem perhaps futile or vulgar, the game of football is a phenomenon that has to be taken seriously.
The XVI World Cup in France was a true reflection of this double nature, which is the underlying tragic/comic situation of mankind. Football is a revealer, an illuminator, a sun.
But it is a sun that never sets...