PARIS: Michel Platini, should he fail with his appeals against an eight-year ban from football, will be painted as one of the greatest personal tragedies in football, given that he had been one of the greatest players of his era.
Platini’s popularity has endured in both his native France, where he was voted the No 1 sports personality of his generation, as well as in Italy where he was voted the greatest player ever to have lined up for Juventus.
Now 60, Platini started out in Nancy-Lorraine under the coaching guidance of his father, Aldo. His first-team debut, at 17, was memorable for the wrong reason: he was carried off with a broken leg.
But he returned only more determined to make his mark and burst onto the domestic and international scene in 1975-76 in sensational style.
Inside 12 months he played a first full league season for Nancy, represented France at military, under-21 and senior international levels then went off to captain France at the Montreal Olympics.
Platini’s first joust on the World Cup stage had been as a player in Argentina in 1978. Four years later he inspired France to fourth place in Spain after feeling the pain of a shoot-out defeat in the dramatic semi-final against West Germany in Seville.
After the finals Platini was sold to Juventus for whom he converted the penalty kick which brought the club their long-awaited first European Champions Cup victory in 1985 – albeit the match itself was overshadowed by the harrowing crowd tragedy in which 39 fans died.
He was Serie A’s leading scorer in each of his first three seasons and nipped back to France, inbetween times, to captain and inspire Les Bleus to their 1984 European Championship victory.
Platini scored in all their five matches, collected nine goals in all including two hat-tricks and the opening goal – from a free kick – in the 2-0 victory over Spain in the Final in the Parc des Princes. Then he duly stepped forward, as captain, to raise the trophy named after fellow Frenchman Henri Delaunay.
In 1986 Platini guided France back to the semi-finals of the World Cup, this time in Mexico. France defeated Brazil in the tournament’s finest match in the quarter-finals but only after a shootout in which Platini, amazingly, missed his kick. France progressed, nevertheless, only to fall 2-0 to the Germans in the semis.
Platini was three times European Footballer of the Year before retiring to concentrate briefly on commercial interests and TV work until he was persuaded to become national manager and then entered the corridors of power.
He became successively national manager of France, joint president of the 1998 World Cup organising committee, special counsellor to FIFA president Sepp Blatter than a vote-winning executive committee member of both UEFA and FIFA.
1955: Born on June 21 in Joeuf
1976: Scores from a free kick on his France debut, a 2-2 draw against Czechoslovakia – the first of a record 41 goals in 72 games
1976: Captains France to the quarter-finals of the Olympic Games football tournament in Montreal
1978: Scores the cup final winner for Nancy-Lorraine against Nice then makes his World Cup finals debut in Argentina but France exit in the first round
1979: Transfers to Saint-Etienne
1981: French champion with Saint-Etienne
1982: Sold to Juventus
1983: Wins the Italian cup and top-scores in Serie A with 16 goals. Champions Cup runner-up and voted European Footballer of the Year.
1984: Guides Juventus to the Italian league title and European Cup-winners Cup. Again Serie A top scorer with 20 goals and European Footballer of the Year.
1984: Captains France to victory as hosts in the European Championship and is also the tournament’s nine-goal leading scorer
1985: Scores penalty winner for Juventus in Champions Cup Final against Liverpool and also wins the European Supercup and World Club Cup. Top marksman in Serie A with 18 goals and European Footballer of the Year again, the only player to win it three years in a row
1986: Italian champion for a second time with Juventus
1986: Captains France to third place at the World Cup in Mexico
1987: Retires from playing after Juventus finish Serie A runners-up
1998: Joint president of the local organising committee for France’s successful hosting of the World Cup finals.
1992: Manages France at the European Championship finals.
1999-2002: Works for FIFA as president Sepp Blatter’s ‘football counsellor’ overseeing, among other projects, the creation of the unified international calendar before being voted on to the UEFA executive committee and subsequently the FIFA exco.
2007: Ousts Lennart Johansson to become president of UEFA.
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