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Wonderful World Cup winners are proud to be French: Deschamps

 

By Adrian Rutherford

Victorious France boss Didier Deschamps hailed his "wonderful" young side after guiding them to World Cup glory - 20 years after he lifted the trophy as a player.

France were crowned champions for the second time after beating Croatia 4-2 in a pulsating final in Moscow.

Deschamps, who captained the 1998 World Cup-winning side, said: "It's so beautiful, so wonderful. I'm really happy for this group. It wasn't always easy, but by working hard, listening, they are on top of the world for four years."

Deschamps was soaked as celebrating players gatecrashed his post-match press conference, spraying water and dancing on tables.

Deschamps added: “Those 23 players will be linked for ever — this is going to change their lives.

“How marvellous. It’s a young team, who are on the top of the world. Some are champions at the age of 19. We did not play a huge game but we showed mental quality. And we scored four goals anyway.

“We deserved to win. The group worked so hard and we had some tough moments.

“It hurt so much to lose the Euros two years ago, but it made us learn. The win is not about me, it’s the players who won the game.  For 55 days, we have done a lot of work. It is the supreme coronation.”

Deschamps, who becomes the third man to manage and play for a World Cup winning team, after Mario Zigalo of Brazil and Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer, added: “We are proud to be French, to be Les Bleus. The victory in the match belongs to them. Vive le Republic.”

Antoine Griezmann was once again France’s key man in attack, winning the free-kick that led to Mario Mandzukic’s own goal and nervelessly beating Danijel Subasic from 12 yards after Ivan Perisic was judged to have handled in the box.

“I don’t realise yet what it is,” said Griezmann. “I’m very proud of this team: the players and the staff, the technical staff and medical staff. We were really a united group.

“We did something incredible, we made history and we are going to enjoy it. We’re going to see our families and we’re going to party. Tomorrow in France will be the same, we’re going to party with the French people.”

Croatia had knocked out hosts Russia and England en route to their first World Cup final.

Captain Luka Modric, who was presented with the Golden Ball award as the best player at the tournament, said they could take pride from their performance.

“We have no regrets because we were the better team for much of the game,” he said.

“Unfortunately, some clumsy goals swung it their way. They will be celebrating but we can hold our heads high.

“When the emotions settle, we will be able to analyse more clearly. I’m proud of the (best player) award. The incredible fan support makes me even happier. You know that despite the defeat you’ve achieved something big, but it’s hard when you come so close and fall short.”

Belfast Telegraph

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