The prominence and excellence of French football on a global scale is undisputed. This fact was solidified when the French squad clinched their second World Cup victory in 2018, two decades after their initial win. Nevertheless, France’s contribution to the sport extends beyond these victories, as it has been a breeding ground for exceptional talents over many years. This will be evident as we delve into an enumeration of the greatest French football players in history.
10- Laurent Blanc
The technique that this central defender distilled made him capable of occupying other positions on the field, even feeling comfortable as a winger.
After making his debut and spending 8 seasons with his first team, Montpelier, he signed for Naples, although he did not stand out among the Italians and returned to France. There, he did begin to be noticed and signed for FC Barcelona, with whom he won a Spanish Super Cup, a Copa del Rey, and a European Cup Winners’ Cup, although Fáil did not have it due to injuries. After one season, he decided to go back to France to play more games for Olympique and thus be able to play in the World Cup with the national team in ’98.
His sporting career ended playing with the English team Manchester United.
9- Karim Benzema
A member of the “BBC” who has given great afternoons to Real Madrid, he has spent his entire career between the white club and the team with which he debuted, Olympique Lyon. In both clubs, he has achieved several titles, in addition to individual recognitions, such as 9 nominations for the Ballon d’Or.
8- Jean-Pierre Papin
The legendary Pelé included him in his list of the 100 most outstanding players, and he achieved third place in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, scoring 2 goals in the competition. He went through well-known teams such as Belgian Bruges, Italian Milan, and Bayern Munich, as well as French clubs such as Olympique, among others. He won the Ballon d’Or in 1991.
The outstanding left winger, who reached the runners-up position in the world championship with the French team, this player’s career has passed through 4 countries: France, Turkey, Italy, and Germany, where he played with Bayern and won 9 leagues, 6 cups, 5 super cups, a League Cup, Champions League, European Super Cup, and World Cup, becoming an idol for the club’s fans.
6- Eric Cantoná
Although he is often remembered for his bad character, no one can doubt that he is one of the best players ever born in France. His career has been divided between his native country and England, achieving several titles with Olympique de Marseille, Leeds, and Manchester United. He is part of the English Premier Hall of Fame.
5- Thierry Henry
Known above all among Spaniards for his time at FC Barcelona, with whom he made history by being part of the only team that has managed to win all the titles of the year; with his team, he also achieved great things, such as a World Cup, a European Championship and a Confederations Cup. He was a candidate for the Ballon d’Or on several occasions and Europe’s top scorer twice.
4- Just Fontaine
Remembered for being the top scorer in a World Cup with 13 goals, Fotaine was born in Marrakech, which at that time was a French protectorate and allowed him to play under that nationality. He played in unremarkable teams today, but his scoring instinct makes fans remember him as one of the best footballers in French history.
3- Raymond Kopa
A Real Madrid teammate of Di Stefano at the white club, he had to reinvent himself to adapt to a new position, although this was not a problem for him to shine as he did. Once he had the ball at his feet, he didn’t lose it. The best team of the 20th century owes its name in part to Kopa’s participation in just 3 seasons, creating a lethal forward alongside Di Stéfano, Gento, and Puskas.
2- Michel Platini
Standing out for his quality since he was just a child, Platini attracted the attention of several teams in a very short time, especially after the 1976 Olympic Games. Saint-Étienne and then Juventus of Turin, with whom he signed after his participation in the 1982 World Cup in Spain, were the teams that managed to enjoy their game. With the Italians, he won the Champions League, the European Cup Winners’ Cup Super Cup, and the Intercontinental. At an individual level he has 3 Ballon d’Ors, in consecutive years.
1- Zinedine Zidane
Almost everyone, without exception, agrees that Zidane is the best French player of all time. In the 1998 documentary Les Yeux dans le Bleus, his two goals in the World Cup final in France are recorded. He also won the Euro Cup in 2000, defeating the Spanish, Portuguese, and Italians, becoming consecutive World and European champions.
Elegant when passing and finishing, after moving from France to Italy he became a star wearing the Real Madrid shirt, where he played until the end of his career, and being part of the best football lineup in history without a doubt.