How French football collapsed

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PARIS, June 22 – Timeline of French footballing fortunes from World Cup triumph at home in 1998 to disgrace in South Africa on Tuesday:-1998 – France end their World Cup drought in style in Paris as they beat Brazil 3-0 in the final with Zidane bagging a brace and Emmanuel Petit the other. It was the first time that France had won football’s top prize.

2000 – France confirm their domination of world football as they add the European crown to their trophy cabinet under coach Roger Lemerre – Aime Jacquet having stood down after the 1998 victory.

2002 – Signs that things are not well as Lemerre stands looking aghast as France surrender their world title in South Korea lamely going out in the first round having failed to score a goal. Lemerre refuses to fall on his sword and is sacked three weeks after the debacle. Jacques Santini takes over.

2004 – Had the best record in qualifying for the Euro 2004 finals but under Santini they struggled through the group stages and then lost their last title as they went down to eventual champions Greece 1-0 in the quarter-finals. Santini is replaced by Under-21 coach Raymond Domenech.

2006 – Totally out of sorts in the group stages, the by-now veteran Zidane inspires a French revival as they beat Spain, Brazil and Portugal en route to the final where they lost on penalties to Italy. Zidane is sent off in extra-time for a head butt on Marco Materazzi, his final action in football.

2008 – France showed little fight and few new ideas in the finals and went out limply in the first round as Domenech battled both public, press and several players.

2010 – Entered the finals with many even questioning whether they deserved to be there after Thierry Henry’s infamous handball against Ireland. It went from bad to worse in South Africa with the only fireworks for the team coming off the field. Star striker Nicolas Anelka is sent home for insulting Domenech during the 2-0 loss to Mexico, his teammates go on strike for a day and they then lose 2-1 to South Africa.

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