Manchester United defender Patrice Evra has tasted success of late, winning two Premier Leagues and a UEFA Champions League title since joining the English giants in 2006 - and his appetite for further honours is as keen as ever.
"With the French team it's no laughing matter - the shirt is supreme," Evra said from the squad's training camp north of Paris on Thursday. "."
If you give 100 percent to your club, you have to give 300 percent to the French team
Raymond Domenech's men open their FIFA World Cup™ qualifying campaign on Saturday against Austria, with the visit of Serbia four days later, and the under-fire French coach admitted midweek that he was revelling in the pressure.
It's an attitude that chimes with Evra as France look to bounce back from their miserable UEFA EURO 2008 campaign where they lost twice and drew once and failed to get further than the group stage.
The defender is far from guaranteed his place in the French squad, with Eric Abidal and Gael Clichy breathing down his neck - a situation he knows well from his early days with Sir Alex Ferguson's outfit. "(The competition) pushes me to excel. I accept it as much as it's healthy," he said.
"It's a good thing that Abidal and Clichy are behind me. When I arrived at Manchester United, it was said that (Gabriel) Heinze was the best, and I did what I had to do."
Evra joined United after four seasons with AS Monaco, going on to displace Heinze after some impressive performances, becoming an indispensable and talismanic presence in the Old Trafford side. "I haven't played enough to say that I'm the first-choice," said Evra, of his France first-team hopes.
"I played the last two matches at EURO, but the EURO is far away. Football moves so quickly...I see myself as I was before the EURO: a French squad player. For selection you must be the best, you can lose your place very quickly. You don't have much time, you must always prove yourself, to say to yourself this is the last time I play." He added: "The Austrians have a lot of quality, they rely on their attackers; we will have to close the door."
France and Evra will not have it all their own way against the EURO 2008 co-hosts Austria, as new boss Karel Bruckner looks to take the team to the FIFA World Cup finals for the first time since 1998.
Austria's form going into the match looks good, with a respectable 2-2 friendly draw against world champions Italy last month. Yet Evra is confident of a winning start for France. "The first match of the qualifications is very important. It is important to start well for confidence and not to be left with any doubts." But he warned: "If you win the first match, the second is difficult because you risk going to sleep."
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