- Michel Hidalgo passed away on Thursday 26 March
- Head coach of France from 1976 to 1984
- Piloted World Cup return for Les Bleus after 12-year absence
Ex-France head coach Michel Hidalgo died at his home in Marseille on Thursday, four days after his 87th birthday.
Upon his appointment as manager of Les Bleus in 1976, Hidalgo immediately went about transforming an underachieving side into a formidable force on the international scene. Under him France qualified for the 1978 FIFA World Cup Argentina™, their first appearance at a global finals in 12 years.
Though France would bow out after the group stage at Argentina 1978, four years later Hidalgo helmed a semi-final run at the 1982 FIFA World Cup Spain™. With Michel Platini as captain, France stormed into the last four before suffering a heartrending 5-4 loss on penalties to Germany; the match finished 3-3 after extra time.
"Naturally, we have bad memories of that game," Hidalgo told FIFA.com in 2014. "We were happy to have had a high-quality campaign, and Germany were fearsome opponents. Plus, it was a good match from every way of looking at it: enjoyable to watch and fiercely contested."
The culmination of Hidalgo's work came at UEFA EURO 1984, which France captured with a 2-0 win over Spain in the final on home soil at the Parc des Princes. Shortly after leading Les Bleus to their first continental title, Hidalgo left his position as head coach. Thereafter he enjoyed front office positions with both the national team and Marseille.
Hidalgo will be remembered as a coach beloved by his players and one who ushered in a new era of French football, building the foundation for future success.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino was among the first to express his condolences and pay tribute. "His legacy and his achievements, on and off the field, and in particular his exemplary passion, his personality, his kindness and his affection, will not be forgotten and he will be greatly missed," the FIFA President wrote of Hidalgo in a letter to Noel Le Graet, his counterpart at the French Football Federation (FFF). "On behalf of the international football community, I would like to express our deepest sympathy to the French Football Federation, as well as to Michel's family, friends and loved ones."