From water carrier to serial winner

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Longevity is a rare gift in football management, but Didier Deschamps has certainly been afforded that as France coach.
The 55-year-old has been in charge since 2012 and in that time he has led his country to three out of five possible finals and won one World Cup.
That success in 2018 meant he joined a select few who have won a world title both as a manager and a player, and this summer he has the chance to make more history.

Should he lead France to glory in Germany, he will become only the second person to win a European Championship as both a player and a manager, after German Berti Vogts, and the first to have achieved the ‘double-double’
Not bad for someone who was once dismissed as a “water carrier”.
From ‘water carrier’ to serial winner
IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES
Image caption: Didier Deschamps captained Marseille to the 1993 Champions League when he was 24
Deschamps’ career both as a player and an international manager stands among the best.
Widely regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders of his generation, the former Marseille, Juventus and Chelsea player won two French league titles, three Serie A championships, and two Champions League trophies.
His unglamorous yet key role was famously described as that of “a water carrier” by his former France team-mate Eric Cantona, who suggested his role was simple – win the ball then give it to more creative team-mates.
“Deschamps gets by because he gives 100%, but he’ll never be anything more than a water carrier,” Cantona said in an interview in 1996.
“You find players like him on every street corner.”
Deschamps could not resist a retort. “How many players can you find on street corners who have won two European Cups?” he replied.
But in the main he did his talking on the pitch.
A natural leader, he became the youngest captain to lift the Champions League with Marseille in 1993 then led his country to World Cup success five years later.
Former France defender Lilian Thuram, who was Deschamps’ team-mate in that 1998 win, told BBC Sport: “Deschamps, the captain, he was the one who led the way. He was a true leader of that team.
“Knowing him then, you can see how he became a manager and won the World Cup, because he had that drive within him.”
Management a natural next step
IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES
Image caption: Didier Deschamps is now in his 12th year as France manager
When Deschamps retired from playing in 2001, moving into management seemed the sensible progression for someone praised throughout his career for his leadership skills.
He had spells in charge of Monaco, Juventus and Marseille before becoming France manager in 2012.
His arrival came two years after a catastrophic World Cup in 2010 for Les Bleus under Raymond Domenech.
The France squad was fractured, with players refusing to train in protest at the French Football Federation’s decision to send home striker Nicolas Anelka after he argued with Domenech.
Unity was something Deschamps emphasised above all else when he took charge and he soon fashioned a cohesive side that once again was a force at major tournaments.
They reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, losing to eventual winners Germany, and made the final of Euro 2016, which they hosted, but were beaten 1-0 by Portugal.
The upward trend continued, though, as France triumphed at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
A crucial moment in that success came after they beat Argentina 4-3 in a thrilling last-16 match.
Afterwards, some of the players had gone out and were noisy on their return, waking up those sleeping when defender Adil Rami sprayed a fire extinguisher in the hotel corridor.
Philippe Tournon, France’s press officer at the time, told the BBC documentary ‘How To Win The World Cup’ that Deschamps’ response highlighted his man-management skills.
“My room was next to Didier’s and I thought he was ready to tear them apart,” he said.
“Didier had a word and, with his sixth sense of his relationship with the players and the unity of the group, told me ‘if I lay into them it might break something we’ve been building for five or six weeks’.”
Deschamps, of course, is not flawless and after they were knocked out of Euro 2020 in the last 16 by Switzerland he was criticised for getting his tactics and team selections wrong.
He responded to the critics and doubters by leading France to their second successive World Cup final in Qatar two years later, where they were beaten on penalties by Argentina after a thrilling 3-3 draw.
One last chance for European glory as a coach?
IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES
Image caption: Deschamps won the European Championship as a player in 2000, which is the last time France won the tournament
During that World Cup run, Deschamps was again praised by those who played for him.
“Our coach believes in us being a group, being a team,” striker Antoine Griezmann said.
“We’re a group that lives well together. I see it in training, too. Everyone gives 100 per cent and we have the perfect set-up to take us as far as possible.”
The French Football Federation agreed, rewarded Deschamps with a new contract to keep him in charge of France until the 2026 World Cup.
France are among the favourites to triumph in Germany and lift their first European Championship in 24 years.
Should they succeed, the “water carrier” will have earned the right to be considered arguably the greatest international manager of all time.



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