In eight attempts, France had never won in England heading into the teams’ last encounter of the 20th century. A team boasting a formidable Emile Veinante-Jean Nicolas spearhead were overwhelmed 4-1 at White Hart Lane in 1933, while Robert Jonquet, Roger Piantoni and Raymond Kopa were 4-0 losers at Wembley just six months before they helped beat West Germany 6-3 to seize bronze at the 1958 FIFA World Cup Sweden™. Worryingly, in their six defeats on English soil, Les Bleus had scored just once and conceded 20.
For over an hour on 10 February 1999, France didn’t look likely to net their first victory across the English Channel. But although this match would belong to a London resident, it was one born in Versailles.
With the Wembley clock reading 69, Nicolas Anelka cutely sprung the offside trap laid by his Arsenal team-mates Tony Adams and Martin Keown and raced on to a delightfully cushioned pass from Zinedine Zidane, which the 19-year-old striker duly stroked home past Nigel Martyn to edge the reigning world champions ahead. Seven minutes later, Christophe Dugarry played a one-two with Zidane down the left before expertly cutting the ball across goal for Anelka, who slid between Adams and Graeme Le Saux to stab the ball into the back of the net and seal a 2-0 success.
Had L'Enfant Terrible wanted to set a trend in a city preparing for that month’s London Fashion Week by bizarrely wearing goalkeeping gloves, he failed. Anelka did, however, certainly look the part in footballing terms.
England 0-2 France (Anelka 69, 76)
10 February 1999; Wembley, London
England – David Seaman (Nigel Martyn 46); Lee Dixon (Rio Ferdinand 72), Martin Keown (Jason Wilcox 85); Tony Adams, Graeme Le Saux; Darren Anderton, David Beckham, Paul Ince, Jamie Redknapp (Paul Scholes 85); Michael Owen (Andy Cole 66), Alan Shearer.
France – Fabien Barthez; Liliam Thuram, Laurent Blanc (Franck Leboeuf 46), Marcel Desailly; Bixente Lizaruzu; Didier Deschamps (Vincent Candela 90), Emmanuel Petit; Zinedine Zidane, Youri Djorkaeff (Patrick Vieira 83), Robert Pires (Christophe Dugarry 46); Nicolas Anelka (Sylvain Wiltord 83).
England results at home to France during the 20th century
England 4-1 France (1933 at White Hart Lane)
England 3-0 France (1947 at Highbury)
England 2-2 France (1951 at Highbury)
England 4–0 France (1957 at Wembley)
England 1–1 France (1962 at Hillsborough)
England 2-0 France (1966 at Wembley)
England 5-0 France (1969 at Wembley)
England 2-0 France (1992 at Wembley)
England 0–2 France (1999 at Wembley)
England & France legends
Click this Classic Players link to read about the superb careers of former England or France players Gordon Banks, Bobby Charlton, Marcel Desailly, Just Fontaine, Raymond Kopa, Michel Platini & Zinedine Zidane.