1998 FIFA World Cup France™

1998 FIFA World Cup France™

10 June - 12 July

France 1998

The breakthrough Bleus in numbers

France celebrate winning the 1998 FIFA World Cup
© Getty Images

Sixty-eight years – that’s what it took France to win a tournament they had been the architects of. Two headers – that’s the unlikely recipe a likely hero used to rock its record champions. The 93rd minute – that’s when a ponytailed prince belied position and numeracy to apply the coup de grâce.

Those numbers are news to nobody. Some other little gems behind Les Bleus' conquering of the 16th FIFA World Cup™ are, however, well worth hearing. Allow FIFA.com to take you through them.


francs is what Emmanuel Petit won on a Monte Carlo fruit machine – thanks, indirectly, to Les Bleus striking the jackpot at the Stade de France. After they defeated Brazil, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, under whose tutelage Petit had begun his career at Monaco, unexpectedly gave him an extra five days off. Petit consequently went to stay at a plush hotel in the Monaco-enveloped gambling epicentre of the world. There, he stuck a ten-franc coin into a slot and won the equivalent of $28,000! Petit nobly donated it to charity.


per cent of Frenchman wanted Aime Jacquet sacked in a poll conducted by French television in April 1998. Les Bleus had failed to win a game at Le Tournoi, finishing behind England and Brazil on home soil; they had gone winless in consecutive friendlies against Norway, Russia and Sweden; and they hadn’t won a match by more than one goal since Didier Deschamps and Ibrahim Ba secured a 2-0 victory in Portugal in January 1997. In 2000, by huge contrast, Jacquet beat Albert Batteux and Michel Hidalgo in a France Football poll to be named French coach of the century.


France’s position on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking heading into the tournament – beneath the likes of Egypt, Morocco, Norway, Japan and USA. No team has begun a World Cup they won from a lower spot on the global ladder, which was launched in 1993. Brazil were third in 1994 and second in 2002, while Italy were 13th in 2006, Spain were second in 2010, and Germany were second in 2014.


seconds is all it took between Christophe Dugarry receiving the ball inside France’s box and Emmanuel Petit, inside the opposite one, finishing off a breakneck counter – and Brazil. Patrick Vieira’s pass set up his Arsenal midfield partner, making it the sixth World Cup Final goal since 1950 in which the scorer was assisted by his club-mate. Bobby Moore assisted two of Geoff Hurst’s goals in 1966 (West Ham United), Pele teed up Carlos Alberto for that strike in 1970 (Santos), and Paolo Rossi and Marco Tardelli were laid on by Claudio Gentile and Gaetano Scirea in 1982 (all Juventus).


players were agonisingly dropped from France’s squad at the 11th hour – and it left most of them stunned. A 28-player party had been gathered in Clairefontaine for two weeks when, suddenly late one Friday night, Jacquet wielded the axe. While goalkeeper Lionel Letizi was hopeful rather than expectant of making the final cut, Martin Djetou, Pierre Laigle, Sabri Lamouchi, Ibrahim Ba and Nicolas Anelka, who had been tipped to lead the French line, all expressed their disbelief.


members of France’s squad were born outside of its borders – the second-most a World Cup-winning squad has had behind Italy, who had seven in 1934. Marcel Desailly, Christian Karembeu, Lilian Thuram and Patrick Vieira hailed from Ghana, New Caledonia, Guadeloupe and Senegal respectively. Multiple others grew up overseas, such as Bernard Lama in Guyana and David Trezeguet in Argentina.


of Jacquet’s class of ’98 went on to compete in other sports after retiring from football. Alain Boghossian played on the Alps Tour, a professional golf tournament. Fabien Barthez became a motor racing driver, being crowned French GT champion in a Ferrari and participating in the esteemed Le Mans 24-Hour race. Meanwhile Bixente Lizarazu, an adrenaline junkie into surfing, ice racing and skeletoning, contested Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitions, winning gold in the blue-belt category at the European Championships in Lisbon. "When I arrived, all I could see were shaven heads, busted ears and killer faces," said the former left-back. "I said to myself, ‘Oh, shit!’ On the field I had Blanc, Desailly, Thuram beside me. On the mat I am on my own."


red cards is what France collected in 1998 – more than any other World Cup-winning team. Despite having never previously had a player sent off at the World Cup, Zinedine Zidane was dismissed for a stamp on Saudi Arabia’s Fuad Amin, Laurent Blanc was after a clash with Croatia’s Slaven Bilic in the semi-finals, and Marcel Desailly received two yellows against Brazil in the decider. Italy are the only other side to have had more than one player sent off during a conquering campaign, with Daniele De Rossi and Marco Materazzi earning their marching orders in 2006.


goals is all France conceded at the tournament – a record low for a World Cup-winning side equalled by Italy in 2006 and Spain in 2010. West Germany, by contrast, conceded 14 goals en route to glory in 1954. Fabien Barthez’s five shutouts on home soil help him share, with England’s Peter Shilton, the record of ten clean sheets in World Cup matches.


World Cup-winning country failed to qualify for the previous edition. Les Bleus only required a draw at home to Bulgaria in their final USA 1994 preliminary, but despite taking the lead through Eric Cantona, Emil Kostadinov completed his double at the death to snatch the almighty underdogs victory. Bernard Lama, Laurent Blanc, Marcel Desailly, Didier Deschamps, Emmanuel Petit played in that fateful game in Paris.


of his record 142 appearances for France were scored in by Lilian Thuram – and amazingly, the man who was in the midst of netting just one goal in 11 seasons in all competitions at club level, got two in it! He certainly picked a cardinal moment for it – Thuram scored once with his right foot and once with his left to grab Les Bleus a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Croatia in the semi-finals. Funnily, when France battled Paraguay in the Round of 16, bookmakers offered odds of 40/1 on Thuram to score at any time – over six-and-a-half times higher than opposition goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert (6/1).

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