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Best French Soccer Players of All Time

Thu 07 January 2021 | 16:30

France had a lot of legendary players who left an indelible mark over the years. Below, you'll find a rank of the best French soccer players of all time with some star players from years past.

Soccer is the most cherished sport in many countries, and France is no exception. Having won a number of international titles, as well as injecting many great players to the world of soccer, France is one of the most prosperous countries in the field. 

Due to the immigration of the Africans years ago, France have been rich in having players with different genes, thus diversity in physical characteristics among the players occurred, and over the years, a balanced harmony happened in French national team that helped them reach the pinnacle of glory in football, which is winning the FIFA World Cup.

France

have won the cup two times, including winning the most recent one in Russia in 2018 with a number of youths, yet experienced. Widely known as Les Bleus (The Blues), France also won 1998 World Cup with an astounding performance against the unbeatable Brazil in the final match, by a 3-0 victory.

Moreover, it was only two years later that they managed to win their second European championship in 2000, adding the trophy to their first one in 1984. Furthermore, they have also won two FIFA Confederations Cups in 2001 and 2003.

If the skills and contributions of some legendary players had not been there, none of those mentioned achievements would have occurred. In other words, no matter how much effort managers and coaches make, at the end of the day, the ones who determine the result of a match or even a tournament, are the players on the field.

Let's introduce some of the best French soccer players of all time:

These players are the main reason that France has made a name for itself in the history of football with their wonderful performances for their clubs, as well as their national team.

Hugo Lloris

  • Full name: Hugo Hadrien Dominique Lloris

  • Place of birth: Nice, France

  • Playing position(s): Goalkeeper

Date of birth:

26

December 1986 (age 35)

Height:

1.88

m

(6 ft 2 in)

Hugo Lloris

is the current captain of France national team and English club

Tottenham hotspurs

. The French keeper is considered as one of the bests in his position, since he has rapid reactions and does a nice job in one-on-one battles.

Before joining the Spurs in 2012, Lloris had won two titles with his previous club, Olympique Lyon; a Coupe de France (French Cup) and a French Super Cup. Even though the Captain has not won any awards with Tottenham yet, he has won the most prestigious trophy that can be won, the FIFA World Cup.

Lloris lifted the world cup as the captain of France national team in 2018 in Russia as a perfect compensation for his failures in winning trophies with his club. Furthermore, Lloris is a U-19 European champion in 2005 with his national team.

He has made 346 appearances for the Spurs so far and in 119 of them, he has made a clean sheet. The captain has played in 117 matches for 'the Blues' and has shown excellent potentials ever since he made his debut.

Tottenham looks promising this season under Jose Mourinho, and  Lloris strongly hopes this season can be an end to the drought of trophies in his club, so that one of the

best French footballers ever

can be remembered as someone who has won titles with the club he was leading on the pitch, not only the national team.

Marcel Desailly

  • Full name: Marcel Desailly

  • Place of birth: Accra, Ghana

  • Playing position(s): Centre-back / Defensive midfielder

Date of birth:

7

September 1968 (age 53)

Height:

1.85

m (6 ft 1 in)

"The Rock" was given this nickname for his strength, stamina, great tackling skills as well as the ability to anticipating opponent's next move. He also had the capacity to turn the squad into attacking mode right after winning back the ball.

Desailly had a luminous 20-year lasting career with his clubs and France national team. He could play both as a center-back and a defensive midfielder. The legendary player is one of the players who have won the UEFA Champions leagues for two consecutive years with two different clubs.

He has done it by winning the cup in 93 with

Marseille

, and the following year with

AC Milan

. Having won two

Serie A

titles and a European Super Cup with AC Milan, he left the club in 1998 and joined

Chelsea

, where he managed to claim an FA Cup, one a European Super Cup as well as two English Super Cups.

What is more, he was a part of the squads which won the 98 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2000. He has made 116 appearances for his national team and proved himself as not only one of the

best French soccer players of all time

, but also one of the bests in the history of football.

Laurent Blanc

  • Full name: Laurent Robert Blanc

  • Place of birth: Alès, France

  • Playing position(s): Centre-back

Date of birth:

19

November 1965 (age 56)

Height:

1.92

m (6 ft 4 in)

Blanc was a center-back who has played for numerous prominent clubs such as

Barcelona

,

Napoli

,

Inter Milan

, and

Manchester United

. He has played for his country in many international tournaments during his 97 international caps, and won 1998 World Cup as well as Euro 2000 with the "Blues".

Blanc has won many awards and titles. He was named the French footballer of the year in 1990. Moreover, he has won a

La Liga

title and a Spanish Super Cup with Barcelona, one

Premier League

title with the "Red Devils", a League 1 and a French Cup with AJ Auxerre as well as one more French Cup with Montpellier HSC.

As one of the best French footballers ever, he has played a total of 470 matches for his clubs, and has scored 71 goals for them, which is a bright record for a defender. In addition, Blanc is the player who has scored the first Golden Goal in the World Cup history against

Paraguay

in 1998.

Finally, it can be concluded that Blanc is undisputedly one of the best French soccer players of all time, with regard to his achievements and stunning performances with his clubs and national team.

Jean-Pierre Papin

  • Full name: Jean-Pierre Roger Guillaume Papin

  • Date of birth: 5 November 1963 (age 58

    )

  • Place of birth: Boulogne-sur-Mer, France

  • Height: 1.76 m (5 ft 9 in

    )

  • Playing position(s): Striker

The former forward of some big clubs like Marseille,

Bayern Munich

, AC Milan,

Bordeaux

etc. has scored near 250 goals throughout his glittering career. However, he reached the pinnacle of his professional career as a football player in Marseille, where he managed to score the amazing number of 174 goals in 265 appearances during his 6-year stay at the club and has one many individual and team awards.

To clarify the point, he has helped the club secure four league 1 titles and one French Cup trophy. Papin has been named the top scorer of league 1 five times, and the top scorer of European Champions clubs Cup three times, when playing for Marseille.

As one of the best French players in football history, the most remarkable trophy of his career was winning the Ballon d'Or in 1991, alongside being named as the best French player of the year twice in 1989 and 1991. In addition, he has won a UEFA Champions league title with AC Milan as well as two Serie A trophies and one Italian Super Cup.

What is more, he has won one UEFA Cup when he was playing for Bayern Munich and one Belgian Cup with

Club Brugge

. With all of that being said, Jean-Pierre Papin's name will be remembered as one of the

best French soccer players of all time

, especially in Marseille's fans' minds.

Didier Deschamps

  • Full name: Didier Claude Deschamps

  • Date of birth: 15 October 1968 (age 53

    )

  • Place of birth: Bayonne, France

  • Height: 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in

    )

  • Playing position(s): Defensive midfielder

The current manager of France national team was a defensive midfielder who played for

Nantes

, Marseille, Bordeaux,

Juventus

, Chelsea, and

Valencia

. He was regarded as a hard-working player with the capability of winning back possession and stood out for his ability in shifting the team's attitude from defensive to attacking. He is definitely among the best French football players of all time.

He has claimed numerous titles during his career. He took part in the first- and so far, the last- Marseille's European championship in 93, as well as winning three French league titles with that club.  Arriving at Juventus in 1994, he went on to achieve one more UEFA Champions league with "I Bianconeri" in addition to three Italian leagues, two Italian Super Cups, one Italian Cup and one UEFA Super Cup.

Moreover, he helped Chelsea win one English FA Cup and one English Super Cups after joining them in 1999. Deschamps has played in 104 matches for France national team and scored 4 goals. Deschamps was awarded the trophy of best French player of the year in 1996.

He played an important role in winning the 1998 World Cup as the captain of the team, in addition to lifting the EURO 2000's cup. Only three people in the history of football have won the World Cup both as a player and as a manager.

Didier Deschamps is one of them by leading France national team in 2018 World Cup, where they managed to win the cup, 20 years later after he himself lifted the cup. With having the superb career of his in mind, it would be almost impossible not to mention him as one of the

best French players in football history

.

Lilian Thuram

  • Full name: Ruddy Lilian Thuram-Ulien

  • Date of birth: 1 January 1972 (age 49

    )

  • Place of birth: Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe

  • Height: 1.82 m (6 ft 0 in

    )

  • Playing position(s): Defender

The French legendary versatile player with the ability to play as either a right-back or a center-back, is the player with the most appearances for France national team with 142 caps. Like many other players on the list of best French soccer players of all time, he was a vital part of the 1998 world champion and 2000 UEFA EURO winner, as well as taking part in 2006 world cup which led to France being the runner-up.

He also won the FIFA Confederations cup in 2003 with his homeland's national team. Furthermore, Thuram was named the best French footballer in 1997.

The powerful defender won one French Cup with

AS Monaco

, where he had made his debut as a professional footballer, before joining

Parma

in 1996 and winning one Italian Cup, one Italian Super Cup and one UEFA Cup with the club.

He was transferred to Juventus for 36.15 Million Euros in 2001 and became Italian champion two times with "The Old Lady", as well as claiming one Italian Super Cup. In 2006 he joined the last club in his glittering career, FC Barcelona, where he managed to add a Spanish Super Cup to the items in his impressive list of achievements.

The most admired defender in the history of French football was chosen to be the ambassador of UNICEF, and has been fighting against racism. Lilian Thuram is a genuine legend whose place in best French soccer players of all time is guaranteed.

Raymond Kopa

  • Full name: Raymond Kopaszewski

  • Date of birth: 13 October 1931

  • Place of birth: Nœux-les-Mines, France

  • Date of death: 3 March 2017 (aged 85

    )

  • Place of death: Angers, France

  • Height: 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in

    )

  • Playing position(s): Attacking midfielder

Raymond Kopa is a great player from old times who has played for the French club Stade Reims and

Real Madrid

, as well as some other French clubs. He has won 3 European Champions Cup with Real Madrid from 57 to 59, as well as securing 2 La Ligas with the Spanish club.

As one of the greatest French soccer players ever, Kopa helped Stade Reims being the champion of France 4 times and winning one French Super cup with the club that he spent most of his career in, and got retired there. Kopa won the Ballon d'Or in 58 due to his astonishing performances which led Real Madrid earn the European champions Cup again.

Kopa was also awarded the title of French footballer of the year in 1960. The French legend has also won two "Sports Personality of the Year" awards in 55 and 58. Kopa has made 46 appearances for France national team, including taking part in two World Cups, and has scored 18 goals for the Blues, thus engraved his name in the minds of football lovers as one of the best French Soccer players of all time.

Just Fontaine

  • Full name: Just Louis Fontaine

  • Place of birth: Marrakech, French Morocco

  • Playing position(s): Striker

Date of birth:

18

August

1933 (age 88

)

Height:

1.74

m (5 ft 9 in

)

Just Louis Fontaine is the legendary former attacker of France national team who hold the unique record of scoring the most goals in a single FIFA World Cup tournament, with scoring 13 goals in only 6 matches in 1958.

Another incredible stat of his is scoring 30 goals in 21 matches for the national team, an average of more than 1.4 goals per match. Fontaine has been the top scorer of five different tournaments during his career, including two league 1 top scorer awards, a World Cup, a European champion clubs' cup and a European qualification tournsment.

He has claimed the

League 1

title four times, three of which were with Stade Reims and one with

OGC Nice

. Moreover, Fontaine has also won two French Cups, one with Stade Reims and the other with OGC Nice. He is undoubtedly one of the

best French football players of all time

.

Thierry Henry

  • Full name: Thierry Daniel Henry

  • Date of birth: 17 August 1977 (age 44

    )

  • Place of birth: Les Ulis, France

  • Height: 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in

    )

  • Playing position(s): Striker

Thierry Henry is one of the best strikers of all time and to some experts' opinions the best player in the history of Premier League.  He made his debut with Monaco, and joined Juventus later on. However, his turning point was joining

Arsenal

in 1999, where he became the club's all-time leading scorer and assist provider with 228 goals and 104 assists in 376 matches.

Henry is regarded as the best player in Arsenal's history. Henry has won 7 titles with The Gunners; two Premier Leagues, three FA Cups and two English Super Cups. He was the crucial part of the Arsenal team which managed to win the Premier League without losing one single match in 2004, an unbeaten record to this day.

Henry holds the record of winning the golden boot of the Premier League the most times (4), and has been named the player of the year 8 times in France and England combined.

Henry joined Barcelona in 2007 and was a part of the dream team in 2009, which managed to win all of the 6 possible trophies in one year, as well as one more La Liga with Blaugrana in 2010, he has scored 49 goals in 121 matches during his stay at Barcelona. The natural scorer joined the American club NY Red Bulls in 2010 and scored 52 goals for them.

He took part in 1998 World Cup and EURO 2000, both of which was won by France national team. In addition, he helped his national team secure 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup.

Moreover, the French is also the leading top scorer of France national team with 51 goals in 124 appearances. Henry is undisputedly the best French striker of all time and among the

greatest French footballers in history

.

Michel Platini

  • Full name: Michel François Platin

  • Date of birth: 21 June 1955 (age 66

    )

  • Place of birth: Jœuf, France

  • Height: 1.79 m (5 ft 10 in

    )

  • Playing position(s): Attacking midfielder

​Michel François Platini is a French former football player, manager and administrator. As the president of UEFA in 2015, he was banned from football as a result of some ethics violations.

Michel Platini was a prolific goal scorer who led France to their first ever European championship in 1984 by scoring 9 goals in the tournament. Even though he has played for

Saint-Etienne

and

AS Nancy

in France, the peak of his career happened in Juventus where he has scored 104 goals in 223 appearances for the Old Lady.

Furthermore, he has claimed 2 Serie A titles, one European champion clubs' cup, one Italian cup, one UEFA Super cup and on intercontinental cup with I Bianconeri. Platini has won three consecutive Ballon d'Ors from 83 to 85.

Moreover, he has been named as the Serie A top scorer three times. He is not only widely known as one of the

best French soccer players of all time

, but one of the greatest players in the whole world.

Zinedine Zidane

  • Full name: Zinedine Yazid Zidane

  • Date of birth: 23 June 1972 (age 49

    )

  • Place of birth: Marseille, France

  • Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in

    )

  • Playing position(s): Attacking midfielder

Zidane is unquestionably one of the greatest French footballers in history. He has won numerous individual and team titles, which as well as his outstanding skills on the field make him one-of-a-kind player. Zidane has achieved all of his titles with Juventus, Real Madrid and France national team.

The genius had claimed two Serie A titles, one intercontinental cup, one Italian Super Cup as well as a UEFA Super cup with Juventus before joining Los Blancos. Zidane has won two of his three FIFA Best man's player award, and his 1998 Ballon d'Or when playing for the Zebras.

However, the pinnacle of his team achievements happened in Madrid, where he led the team to their 9

th

ever Champions league in 2002 with his stunning volley goal in the final match against

Bayer Leverkusen

. Zizou's contribution to winning two Spanish Super cups, as well as one La Liga title, one intercontinental cup and a UEFA Super cup was essential.

Zidane’s spectacular performances for Real Madrid won him another FIFA Best man's player in 2003. He was the player to remember in the final match of 1998 World Cup where he scored 2 goals against the unbeatable Brazil.

Moreover, he took part in EURO 2000 and France's championship. Although 2006 World Cup was his last tournament and he retired after the final match where they lost against Italy, his performances were as perfect as his young days, especially against Brazil.

Zidane will forever be remembered as one of the best French soccer players and one of the greatest in the history of football.

France has not stopped introducing great players with breathtaking abilities in the last couple of years. Players like

Kyllian Mbappe

,

Paul Pogba

,

Frank Ribery

, and Eric Cantona could have been on the list of the

greatest French soccer players ever

.

They are currently one of the most promising national teams in the world with lots of youths with a bright future like Mbappe and

Camavinga

.

They hope to continue their dominance in the following world cup in 2022, and win Euro 2020, which was postponed until 2021, considering the fact that they lost in the last EURO's final match against Portugal.

 

 

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