From water-carrier to trophy-lifter – Didier Deschamps has joined an elite group to win a World Cup both as a player and coach


Kashinath Bhattacharjee, Moscow

A certain Napoleon Bonaparte took shelter in Moscow in 1812 with the intention of invading the city but was sent back by the gritty Russians who set their beloved city on fire and deserted it without the amenities to survive for the Grande Armee of 650,000 people. The great Napoleon had to retreat.

Didier Deschamps and his team came here to conquer Moscow. They did it in the same style as how the Russians succeeded in throwing Napoleon out of their country. They suffocated their opponent, although they had given the ball to them.

And there was no stopping Paul Pogba and his teammates from invading the official press conference of the French national team coach.

Even ‘incredible’ cannot describe the atmosphere. Deschamps came to the press conference, sat on his chair, a journalist started the questioning and Deschamps was just thanking the media when that happened.

The French footballers came rushing in with bottles of champagne in their hands, some had water, too. They sprayed everything liquid over their beloved coach. The officials accompanying him ran out of the way. One of the translators even tried to interpret what they were saying in French. That lasted for at least two-and-half minutes before everything was cleared.

Deschamps sat again, his head continuously shaking but with a broad smile on his face. It started again and would you believe it, they came invading again.

This time the celebration lasted a minute or so. Deschamps tried his best to control his wards. But Pogba was uncontrollable. He sprayed everyone again. He was up on the table, waving his hands and when sense prevailed, he tried to clear the table of all the liquid he had sprayed, found an officer’s paper notebook, showed it to the media and said, ‘I cannot do anything with it, sorry guys, please forgive me”, and went out cheering his coach, “Didier! Didier!”

Winning a World Cup does make you mad, heard it somewhere, watched it in person. An indescribable memory.

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Deschamps emulated Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer to win the World Cup both as a player and manager. The comparison is more apt to Beckenbauer since both of them won it as a captain and manager. But the first thing the French legend said was that he had changed three times since they had all gone back to the dressing room and he still smelled so bad. A peculiar thing for a Frenchman who are always in love with the best perfumes they make. But success smells more beautiful than a Givenchy or Yves Saint Laurent Parisienne. 

He accepted the fact that both these legends were beautiful players on the pitch which he was not. But he had a World Cup as a player. And now he has a World Cup as a manager.

For him, the turning point of the team was the defeat to Portugal in the Euro 2016 final. “It was so painful for us, I think that made us more hungry for success. I don’t know whether we would have won the World Cup if we had won the Euros or not, but that was important for us to learn things the hardest way. You need to think collectively. Talent is important, but your opponents will have talent too. What is crucial is being a collective.”


Well, they did it collectively. They celebrated it madly. They should do since they will be the world champions for the next four-and-half-years!

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