Leader of the French Renaissance during Euro 1984, Platini's heroics in the tournament crowned France as European Champions on home soil...
Michel Francois Platini
Date Of Birth: 21 June, 1955
Place Of Birth: Joeuf, France
Playing Position: Attacking Midfielder
One of the most flamboyant French football player, Platini boasts one of the most illustrious careers a player can boast of. During his professional career, he played for Nancy, Saint-Etienne and Italian giants Juventus scoring 224 goals in 432 appearances. Platini was a lethal finisher, dead ball expert and an excellent passer of the ball which enabled him to be named as Player of the Tournament during Euro 1984. He held the record for most number of goals for France (41) until Thierry Henry broke it in 2007. Platini together with Jean Tigana, Luis Fernandez and Alain Giresse formed the carre magnique (meaning Magic Square), the group of midfielders that formed the heart of the Les Bleus during the 1980s.
The French were hosts for the 1984 edition of the European Championship. France had sparkled en route to the 1982 FIFA World Cup semi-finals and two years on Michel Hidalgo's team looked even better prepared. New goalkeeper Joël Bats added world-class ability between the posts while Luis Fernandez weighed in with the tackles in midfield, joining creative trio Michel Platini, Alain Giresse and Jean Tigana to form "Le Carré Magique" – the magic square.
France started their European campaign facing Denmark in the first match. They scrapped a 1-0 victory courtesy of a Platini strike. Resounding wins over Belgium and Yugoslavia further heightened the confidence of the team as Michel Platini scored perfect hat tricks (goals scored using the head and each foot) in both of those games. The French star had already scored 7 goals in 3 matches and looked set to be the top scorer of the tournament.
France's real test came in the form of Portugal in the semi finals. Regarded as one of the most exciting games in all European competitions, the French overcame the Portuguese 3-2 in extra time. The scores at 90 minutes were 1-1; Portugal scored first in the extra time and looked to be heading for the final when Platini assisted Domergue to equalise. Platini scored the winner in 119th minute of the game following a low cross from Jean Tigana. The sight of Platini running along the touchline with his arms out and a sea of French flags flying in the crowd behind him was the enduring image of the championship.
Platini's freekick was fumbled by Arconada and gifted France the lead
France faced a talented Spanish side in the final in Paris. If the expectations of a nation seemed to cripple the French in the first-half of the final at the new Parc des Princes, they were gifted a breakthrough when Platini's 57th-minute free-kick squirmed beneath Spain goalkeeper Luis Arconada for his ninth goal in five games. France then had Yvon Le Roux sent off, but they completed their task when Bruno Bellone scored late on to complete a 2-0 victory and claim a first major trophy. Michel Platini finished as the tournament's top goal scorer and was voted as the Best Player. His haul of nine strikes in a single Euro competition is a feat which remains unsurpassed till date.
Platini won the French Cup once, the French League once as well as the French football player award twice during the time where he plied his trade in his native country. He enjoyed even more success with Juventus as he went on to win Serie A twice, Coppa Italia once, the Champions League once, the European Super Cup and the European Cup Winners' Cup. Platini is also three time recipient of the European Player of the Year award and the Capocannoniere (top scorer) of the Serie A. Platini was named Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1985 and became Officier in 1988.
Platini was named as coach of the French national team in 1988 and enjoyed a 19 match unbeaten run. Their excellent campaign for the Euro 1992 qualifiers made France favourites to win the tournament and crowned Platini as Manager of the Year at the World Soccer Awards. A poor performance at Euro 1992 led Platini to step down from his post. Since then Platini has been continuously climbing the administrative ladders of FIFA, UEFA and FFF. He was elected as UEFA President in 2007 and has been serving as the same since then.