07/15 18:50 CDT Deschamps joins Zagallo, Beckenbauer as champ player, coach
Deschamps joins Zagallo, Beckenbauer as champ player, coach
By RONALD BLUM
AP Sports Writer
MOSCOW (AP) --- Didier Deschamps walked into the interview room in the bowels
of Luzhniki Stadium and prepared to answer questions for the first time as
coach of a World Cup champion.
A noise to his right caused him to turn, and his players rushed in.
A bare-chested Benjamin Mendy jumped onto the table in front of Deschamps, and
Florian Thauvin leaped up, too. Olivier Giroud and probably a dozen more giddy
buddies sprayed their boss with bubbly, beer, cola and water singing "On est
champions (We are champions)!"
"This is third time I got changed, and I still smell just as bad," Deschamps
said through a translator.
He lifted the trophy as his nation's captain following the first title at Stade
de France in 1998, and now he watched Hugo Lloris raise it in a Russian
downpour following Sunday's 4-2 win over Croatia. The 49-year-old joined
Brazil's Mario Zagallo (1958-62 as a player, 1970 as a manager) and West
Germany's Franz Beckenbauer (1974, 1990) as the only men to play and coach a
"Well, I don't really like to talk about myself, but I'm going to be forced to
do so a little bit, of course," Deschamps said. "I had the immense pleasure and
immense privilege to live through this as a player 20 years ago, and it was in
France, so of course it will be marked in my memory forever. But what the
players did today is just as beautiful, is just as strong."
His players had to be brawny. They lifted Deschamps after the match and flung
him into the air, over and over.
"They've always been a little bit mad, my players," he said.
Deschamps was a defensive midfielder for Nantes, Marseille, Bordeaux, Juventus,
Chelsea and Valencia from 1985-2001, winning the Champions League with Juve in
1996 and the 2000 European Championship with France in addition to the World
Cup. He coached Monaco, Juventus and Marseille before taking over France in
His national team coaching career included a quarterfinal loss to eventual
champion Germany at the 2014 World Cup and a 1-0 defeat to underdog Portugal in
the Euro 2016 final. It seemed like film noir --- he said there's an upcoming
documentary coming out.
"Two years ago, it was so, so painful to get past this opportunity of being
European champions," Deschamps recalled. "But maybe if we had been European
champions, then we would not have been world champions today. A did learn a lot
myself through this final."
Now the story arc includes happiness. He posed for photos on the field with
wife Claude and Dylan, cradled one of the hardest trophies to win in sports. He
hugged son Dylan as the 22-year-old waved a French tricolor.
"When we were world champions, he was too young to understand," Deschamps said.
"And today there are young people who are maybe 15, 16 years old, and they've
lived through that. They had this happiness, to be able to live this event with
us --- of course maybe to be crazy and a little bit mad."
Based on the losing experience of 2016, he revamped the team's routine ahead of
the final. Player relaxation was at the forefront. And it worked.
"They had to get that star, that shining star," Deschamps said, referring to
the symbol that goes above a national team's crest to indicate a World Cup won.
"I'm proud for them, and I'm also proud of myself --- with all the humility, of
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