Wednesday 26 September 2018, 12:30

Deschamps: This is a shared honour

  • Ddier Deschamps is a world champion player and coach

  • A winner at The Best Awards for the first time

  • He beat Zinedine Zidane and Zlatko Dalic to the Men's Coach prize

Didier Deschamps is now part of one of the most select groups in world football, joining the legendary Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer as the only men to have won the FIFA World Cup™ as a player and a coach.

And if that were not enough, the Frenchman can claim another distinction after being named The Best FIFA Men’s Coach for 2018.

Beaming from cheek to cheek and still clutching the trophy, the current France coach gave his immediate reaction to just moments after receiving the award on Monday. How does it feel to have won? Didier Deschamps: Obviously I’m very proud. It is a great honour to receive individual awards, although in this case it’s a consequence of our most significant achievement on 15 July, something I wouldn’t change for anything in the world. Winning the World Cup put me in the spotlight, but that was thanks to my players and the image we portrayed during the tournament. Their generosity, enthusiasm and unity produced something fabulous, and all the French people with whom I’ve spoken say the same thing. We experienced something fantastic and that happiness should be shared.

For you, what was the key to putting together such a tight-knit group? Player selection – choosing those with quality but who also understood that the collective is more important than the individual. It took many years’ work for everyone to realise that no one person matters more than the national team.

You also had a very young squad… I selected young players because I believed they had the requisite quality. The doubts I had were more about their experience, as there were 14 of them who’d never played at a World Cup before. But they had the more experienced players all around them, so that helped on a psychological level. What I perhaps hadn’t envisaged was that they’d prove to be so decisive. That’s to their credit and no one can take that from them, but back when I called them into the squad, I knew that they could deliver.

Can you tell us a little more about the role your more experienced players had? As I see it, there are three types of leaders: technical, physical and mental. You might have one player with all these attributes or different players with one of them each, but it’s not a case of just one leader. For example, in our case, the captain Hugo Lloris very much typifies a leader but there are others who exhibit those qualities too. You have Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi, who are very expressive, while Raphael Varane also contributed at every level. And for that you obviously need to have some experience and to have played big competitions, because then it’s something that comes naturally.

Didn’t something similar happen with the ‘Class of 98’, with whom you won the world title as a player? Actually, the similarity is that we were world champions. They are two different periods. The first title was 20 years ago, and many things changed since then. Of course, the ingredients are the same. Individual talent, solidarity and collective strength, something that is not so easy with a national team, as players come from different places and there’s not much time to integrate everyone.

So today’s accolade recognises a kind of collective success… For sure, and it gives me a lot of pleasure. It’s recognition of my work and that of all my staff and players. It’s also a source of pride for the entire federation, who created the best conditions for the squad. Yes, I am the one being rewarded tonight, but the prize is for everyone involved in our success.

Finally, how did it feel to have several of your players make the FIFA/FIFPro World11? I was delighted for Raphael (Varane), (N’Golo) Kante and Kylian (Mbappe). That’s a good number of Frenchmen. On top of that Reynald Pedros won The Best FIFA Women’s Coach award, so France was very well represented.

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