At the age of 31, Olivier Giroud is peaking at just the right time and giving free rein to his talent at the FIFA World Cup™. And even if France’s highest scorer among active players (with 31 goals) has yet to find the back of the net in Russia, he is cutting a relaxed and confident figure at the tournament.
The striker always begins training sessions by warming up on his own but this by no means indicates that, as a senior player, he is struggling to fit in with what is a particularly young squad.
“You won’t necessarily find me on the PlayStation with them, but I feel like a kind of older brother,” he explains. “I want to help this young generation to go as far as possible and do as much as I can.”
Despite his 79 caps, he began the tournament on the bench, having taken a nasty knock in a warm-up match that left him with an impressive scar. Coach Didier Deschamps played Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele together for the first time up front and came to the following conclusion: “You realise just how important Olivier Giroud is when he isn’t there.”
Giroud was brought into the line-up for the following match, against Peru, where his ball-holding, aerial domination and constant running into the channels added an extra dimension to the team.
The Chelsea striker certainly has a great deal of footballing intelligence, but that is not all that he brings to the table, as his team-mates attest. “I like his spirit,” says Benjamin Pavard. “He gees us up, he finds the right words before a match to get us to go above and beyond. He’s a great forward who has scored goals wherever he’s gone, and more than that, he’s a great guy. I love him.”