When France inflicted a 7-1 thrashing on Ukraine in a friendly on Wednesday, Didier Deschamps set a new record for the longest time spent at the helm of Les Bleus. Michel Hidalgo was the previous longest-serving manager with a total of 3,014 days (eight years and three months) between 27 March 1976 and 27 June 1984. Deschamps has now gone past that number, having taken over from Laurent Blanc on 8 July 2012, and who knows how many more years he will be in charge of the team?
With France preparing to take on Portugal (11 October) and Croatia (14 October) in the UEFA Nations League, FIFA.com takes a closer look at the secrets of the French coach’s longevity, just a few days ahead of his 52nd birthday on 15 October.
In his playing days, the captain’s armband was part of the kit for ‘DD’, who hails from the Basque region of France. His first club, Nantes, gave him the honour when he was still a teenager, and the tireless defensive midfielder was captain when he got to lift such trophies as the UEFA Champions League with Marseille in 1993, the FIFA World Cup™ in 1998 and UEFA EURO 2000. When he turned to coaching, he transferred those leadership qualities from the pitch to the bench, and at Russia 2018, he became the third man to win the World Cup as a player and a coach, after Brazil’s Mario Zagallo and Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer.
The number of matches that Didier Deschamps has been in charge of the French team, a record that he took from Raymond Domenech (79 matches) after the France-Denmark match at Russia 2018. It is also the number of caps he won as a player before retiring after France won EURO 2000.
Looking to the future
“He uses his experience but he doesn’t talk about his time as a player,” said assistant coach Guy Stephan to FIFA.com ahead of Deschamps being voted The Best FIFA Men’s Coach in 2018. “He never says: ‘back in 98, I did such and such’. He lives in the present and that was the key to his success in 1998 just as it was 20 years later. What did help us though was losing at EURO 2016. It meant that we were better prepared for the Final in Russia and a lot calmer. Didier has really come of age. He’s still young and has plenty of years ahead of him as a coach. He’s a manager with a lot of knowledge.”
Top five French coaches in terms of matches
- Didier Deschamps: 103 (2012 – present)
- Raymond Domenech: 79 (2004 – 2010)
- Michel Hidalgo: 75 (1976 – 1984)
- Aime Jacquet: 54 matches (1994 – 1998)
- Roger Lemerre: 54 matches (1998 – 2002)