Deschamps and his victorious crew ‘swimming in happiness’
Coach pays tribute to the ability and dedication of his young world-beaters
France’s coach Didier Deschamps celebrates with his son Dylan after the World Cup final win over Croatia. Photograph: Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty
“I don’t know where this is going but we are swimming in happiness,” said Didier Deschamps, as the Fifa officials scrambled to get his press conference back on track and the players headed back towards their dressing room.
More striking, though, than the chaotic celebrations by players who showered everyone and everything in water as they chanted their coach’s name, was the prolonged embrace between Deschamps and one of his stars towards the back of the podium.
Nobody had surrendered themselves to the manager’s methods more than Antoine Griezmann and now, like Deschamps, 20 years ago, he was a World Cup winner.
“They may,” said Deschamps, who enjoyed a fair few other successes of his own down the years, “win other trophies in their professional careers but to be a champion of the world.... Nothing is bigger.
“I had a very, very young group; 14 of them were on a journey of discovery at this World Cup but the quality was there and that was it. They had the right state of mind.
“There are imperfections. Today, again, we didn’t do everything right but they had the mental qualities that are decisive in a World Cup and we could see that the other teams didn’t have enough. In the first half of this final, we didn’t have much [of the game] but at the end of it we were leading 2-1.”
Ultimately, he said, they were better than the rest and clearly, for him, that was what mattered.
Zlatko Dalic didn’t disagree although and while he clearly felt aggrieved over the penalty awarded against his side in the first half for handball after the referee had referred to VAR, he was gracious towards the Argentinean match official observing that: “He gave what he saw, fair and square. When these decisions are in your favour, it’s good; when they go against you they are bad.”
Croatia with its population of just four million, might, he suggested, now serve as an example to other small nations.
“I hope they will be encouraged,” the 51-year-old remarked . “If you work hard and have good players, you can produce a good result. Many things have to fall into place but anything is possible. That’s a good message to come out of all of this.”
Ultimately, the defeat, he said “is life and we have to accept it.”
Victory, on the other hand, is to be embraced and, said Griezmann, the players will relish their moment.
“We did something incredible. We made history and we are going to enjoy it; with our families tonight and then tomorrow with the rest of our French people. We are going to have a party.”