June 20, 2014
Laureus Academy Member Marcel Desailly was already a decorated footballer by the time his France team won the ’98 World Cup. In both ’93 and ‘94 he won the Champions League with Marseille and AC Milan respectively. Here he talks about his greatest football and World Cup memories and which winner’s medal he cherishes most….
My experience of the World Cup started from a very good experience with the French in ’98. There was a big disillusion in ’94 when France did not qualify, but because of ’98 this has been something really special for France and for myself. But then we had a bad experience for the World Cup 2002, where France did not succeed. We still had great players, but the pressure of the competition was too high for us. We did not deliver. We did not go to the second round and it was a big disappointment.
Winning the World Cup in ‘98 was something amazing, a special moment. As a footballer, you want to lift that trophy. It’s something so special. It’s one month’s work, teamwork, it’s the national team also. You cannot compare to club implication. The World Cup, it’s nation, faith, dedication.
What made that French team so good was how we all came together at the same moment. We managed to perform individually, collectively. We had a great coach who had a vision. I remember the first day of the competition, he said: “We are going to win the World Cup.” Now we all look at him, we were experienced players, I mean, Zidane was in Juventus, Lizaruzu in Bayern Munich, I was AC Milan, already a bit established. And we said: “But what is he telling us?” And he worked on us, you know, psychologically and, and it does work, it does work. It was a great experience in France in our nation.
Do I put the World Cup higher than the ’93 and ’94 Champions Leagues wins? At the end of the day, trophies are like kids. I can’t choose between one of my kids. But I will say that my elder, it’s the World Cup. The World Cup is the greatest emotion.