The important thing in a final is nothing other than to win … and we did. Sometimes it’s not easy to hold a one-goal lead but we can be pleased to have done so and to have completed a historic hat-trick.
I’m especially pleased that we have managed to replace such excellent midfielders as Didier Deschamps and Laurent Blanc with brilliant players like Robert Pires and Patrick Vieira, while there are other youngsters coming through like Mikael Sylvestre and Eric Carrière who show that we should be able to be just as competitive next year as we were in 1998. And we’ve also proved once again in this tournament that we are a team that likes to score goals, and can do so.
As for Japan, they have shown how they can learn so quickly. Their progress since we beat them 5-0 in Paris in March is amazing. We’ve seen that they not only know how to organise a tournament but, who knows, maybe in a year’s time in this same superb stadium there may be another final between France and Japan …
This was a very good performance by my team against the World Champions, so much better than when we played them in Paris. There were lots of things to be satisfied about and we have finished the tournament well, having found that we can live with the strongest teams and continue to make progress.
It’s very encouraging for the future, although we need to make our attack more penetrating and get a better balance between attack and defence. Our defence is good, our players have won confidence in the knowledge that they can hold the world’s strongest attacks, but we still need to work on individual skills.
Collectively we’re very strong, the players learn quickly and follow tactical plans, but they have to be ready to take more individual responsibility. The best way to achieve this is by playing against the best teams in the world, and to learn from the experience.