Full Name: Michel François Platini
Date of Birth: 21/6/1955
Michel Platini is arguably the greatest French footballer to have ever lived. A devastating free kick specialist and generally a remarkable technician, he deployed vision and strength from the midfield for both club and country.
At the highest point of his career, he captained France to their victory in the 1984 European Championships, which was held on home soil. That year, he was the best player and top goalscorer in the Championships and also picked up the World Player of the Year gong.
During his football career Platini achieved considerable international status and went on to coach the national team for four years before being appointed President of UEFA (Union of European Football Associations), a position to which he was elected this year.
Michel Platini led a very distinguished club career, alongside his captaincy at an international level. However, his club career was slow at first despite an explosive entrance into the reserve team, scoring a hat-trick on his debut. On 3rd May 1973 Platini finally made his first team debut, after a lengthy period of injury. But the following season he was injured again with a fractured arm, ruling him out for the entire season. Nancy were relegated from the first division that same season – hardly an auspicious beginning!
The following season, however, his career really began to take off as he was fundamental in propelling Nancy back into Ligue 1, scoring 17 goals, mostly using his trademark free kick. Platini finally signed a full contract with Nancy in 1976, following his participation in the Montreal Olympic games. Two years later, Platini captained his team to victory in the French Cup against Nice, scoring the only goal in the final.
Following the World Cup in Argentina, his contract with Nancy expired and although they did not want to let him go, it appeared Platini had already set his mind on a move. In 1979 he signed for Saint Etienne.
Saint Etienne (1979-82)
Platini lasted a total of 3 years at Saint Etienne, winning the league title finally in 1981. European success, however, was not to be his with the club, despite spearheading some thumping victories in the UEFA Cup over two successive seasons; 6-0 win over PSV Eindhoven in 1979-80 and trouncing Hamburg 5-0 the following year. In 1982 Platini’s international profile had reached a high point and he was signed to Juventus, where he would spend the rest of his career.
Platini’s time at Juventus was hugely successful. The Frenchman was central to the team’s victorious streak during the 1980s and the list of his personal achievements during those five years is almost endless. Although experiencing a difficult introduction in the Italian football regime, being initially hounded by the press, Platini inspired Juventus to the Italian cup victory that first season and helped them to the European Cup final, which they unfortunately lost 1-0 to Hamburg. Juventus then went on to win the 1984 and 1986 Italian Championship with Platini being the playmaker and midfield engine.
After winning the European Cup Winners’ Cup and the European Super Cup in 1984, the pinnacle came when he finally was able to put his hands around the European Cup in 1985 followed by the 1985 World Club Championship. Consistently impressive during these golden years, he was Serie A top scorer for three consecutive seasons (1982-83, 1983-84 and 1984-85). Perhaps even more impressively, he was crowned European Footballer of the Year awards 3 years running (1983-85).
As well as a star-studded club career, Platini also hit real highs on an international stage with France. His international career really began when he participated for the national side in the Olympic Games in 1976 and was an inspiration in an impressive 4-0 victory over a full international Romanian side. Shortly after, he was called up to the French national squad.
France secured their place in the 1978 World Cup to be held in Argentina with a 3-1 win over Bulgaria, a game in which Platini scored a 25 yard screamer and was pivotal to the victory. However, France were drawn with Italy and home team Argentina in the group round and did not progress to the second stage.
He was soon made captain of the French squad and led them to the World Cup in Spain in 1982. Unexpectedly to most, France reached the semi-finals of that competition and were faced with a robust West Germany team. The semi-final encounter proved to be one of the most exciting games in the history of the World Cup, a thrilling 3-3 deadlock after extra time, the game went to penalties, but West Germany won 5-4.
France and Platini bounced back in 1984 by winning the European Championships on home soil. Platini himself was on fire during the tournament, scoring two hat-tricks, one against Belgium and the other against Yugoslavia. In the semi-finals he destroyed Portugal by scoring a goal in the last minute of extra time to take France to the final. Faced by Spain in the final, Platini scored the first goal from a free kick and France sealed the victory with a goal late on from Bruno Bellone.
Platini just about made it to the 1986 World Cup finals in Mexico but was plagued by injury and played, although reportedly with considerable pain. France attained 3rd place in the tournament and Platini remained pivotal, scoring important goals against Italy and, most notably, against Brazil in the quarter finals, on his birthday.
He retired from international football on April 29th 1987 in a European Championship qualifier against Iceland, shortly before announcing his complete retirement football. In his international career, Platini scored 41 goals for his country, then a record.
Since retirement Michel François Platini has built a career in football coaching and the international administrative arena. He was coach of the French national side between 1988-92, a largely unsuccessful period for France considering their failure to qualify for the 1990 World Cup and then early exit from the 1992 European Championships in Sweden. Although Platini himself was not at all entirely to blame, he stepped down as coach following the 1992 tournament.
He began to make positive moves into the administrative side of international football when he was made head of the organizing committee for the 1998 FIFA World Cup. After climbing through the ranks at UEFA, he finally ran for the presidency last year and defeated Lennart Johannson who had held the post for the previous 16 years by 27 votes to 23.
Platini is clearly an intelligent and charismatic individual to build a successful career with FIFA and UEFA. However, it is reported that he also has a prankster sense of humour. When playing for France in international competitions for example, it was said that he used to squeeze tubes of toothpaste into other players beds as a practical joke. More remarkable still, when outside the stadium he would set off fire crackers then fall on the floor, "playing dead" to scare the wits out of fans near to the incident. Platini is now a hugely important figure in football and remains one of the great ambassadors of a French footballing tradition.
- France Football Magazine’s French Player of the Year: 1976
- France Football Magazine’s French Player of the Year: 1977
- L’Équipe Magazine’s French Champion of Champions: 1977
- Top Scorer in the Italian Championship: 1983
- Chevron Award: 1983
- European Footballer of the Year: 1983
- Onze d’Or: 1983
- Top Scorer in Italian Championship: 1984
- European Championship Player of the Tournament: 1984
- European Championship Top Scorer: 1984
- European Footballer of the Year: 1984
- Guerin Sportivo Magazine’s Player of the Italian Championship: 1984
- L’Équipe French Champion of Champions: 1984
- Onze d’Or: 1984
- World Soccer Player of the Year: 1984
- Top Scorer in the Italian Championship: 1985
- Chevron Award: 1985
- European Cup Top Scorer: 1985
- Knight of the Legion of Honour: 1985
- European Footballer of the Year: 1985
- Onze d’Or: 1985
- World Club Championship Final, Man of the Match: 1985
- World Soccer Player of the Year: 1985
- English Football League Centenary Classic Match, Man of the Match: 1987
- Officer of the Legion of Honour: 1988
- El País’ European Coach of the Year: 1991
- World Soccer Manager of the Year: 1991
- Artemio Franchi Prize: 2003
- Named in FIFA 100: 2004
- Elected UEFA President: 2007
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