Didier Deschamps declared France’s second World Cup success as “just as beautiful” as their first after guiding them to the title on Sunday, saying his players’ lives had changed for ever.
Deschamps, 49, led his side to a dramatic 4-2 victory in the final against Croatia at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, when he became the third man in history to capture football’s greatest prize as both a player and a manager. The former midfielder had captained France to their only other world crown, in 1998.
The France players gatecrashed Deschamps’ post-match press conference, soaking him with drinks before embracing him and singing his name.
“They are young and they are happy,” Deschamps said. “They are crazy. From tonight, I am sorry for them, but they will be different. They will not be the same, they are world champions.
“Maybe they can win other titles, and I don't want to undermine other titles. But when you are a player, if you are world champion, nothing comes above that."
Deschamps has now entered a very select club, joining Brazil’s Mario Zagallo and Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer as the only men to win the World Cup on the pitch and in the dugout. Deschamps was an integral part of the team who lifted the trophy on home soil two decades ago.
“I don’t want to talk about me, but what I remember is my own history and that is linked to these players’ adventure,” he said. “I had the immense privilege to live through this 20 years ago, and in France. But what the players have just done is just as beautiful, just as powerful.
“I have a son who is 22 now. When we were champions he was too young to understand. His generation now have this happiness to live through.”
France were largely outplayed by Croatia, but Deshamps praised his “warriors’” fortitude, saying: “The players knew why they were there. They had to get that star [on the jersey], that shining star, which is wonderful.”
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France won in large part thanks to Kylian Mbappe. The Paris Saint-Germain forward, 19, has been one of the standouts in Russia, scoring his side’s fourth in the final - and his fourth this past month - to underscore his award as the tournament’s best young player. In finding the net, Mbappe became only the second teenager to do so in a World Cup final. Pele was the other, in 1958.
Event still, much more is expected from Mbappe.
"Mbappe is only 19 years old. I hope he will be a world champion again," Deschamps said. "He has done so much already. But you never know.
“Twenty years ago, David Trezeguet and Thierry Henry were 19 years old. But they didn't become world champions again. Today, my players are world champions. My greatest joy, my happiness, is linked to theirs."
Mbappe added: “The road was long but it was worth it. We are proud to make the French happy. We had this role to help them forget all their problems. I do not just want to be in football, but rather to be world champion.”