KEIR RADNEDGE in PARIS —- Some 32 years ago, just like this week, France was about to stage the finals of the European Championship.

The weekly magazine France Football celebrated the occasion by publishing a bumper issue complete with long interviews with both the captain of Les Bleus and with the new president of UEFA.

Happy hosts . . . France Football in June 1984

Captain of France was Michel Platini and about to be elected to head the European football federation was his fellow countryman Jacques Georges.

Platini would subsequently rise to the status of UEFA president, a role he will not relinquish until he is replaced in September after his humiliating fall from grace over the ‘disloyal payment’ scandal.

Ironically the Platini interview was promoted on the front cover of that 1984 issue of France Football with a quote from the interview: “I have changed.”

Learning curve

The interview is clear. Platini was talking about only football and how he had been ‘educated’ in his two years with Juventus in Italy to understand that “the only thing that matters is the result.”

He even suggested that, had he undergone two years of ‘tuition’ in Calcio earlier, then France would not have suffered their dramatic defeat on penalties at the 1982 World Cup in Seville “because we would have known better how to deal with the change of events out on the pitch.”

Within a few weeks of publication of that issue of France Football so Les Bleus had won the 1984 European crown in glorious style and captain Platini had written his name into football history with his top-scoring nine-goal performances.

He could not have foreseen the future then.

Neither could Georges. One of the questions he fielded in his own interview concerned relations between UEFA and the European Union.

Georges and Platini telling it how it was

Georges admitted to a little unease about the freedom of movement of labour laws.

However, he had discussed it with a competitions commissioner and been reassured that the commission was content with the rule, common at the time in western Europe, permitting a maximum of two foreign players per club.

New commissioners from Germany and Britain, noted Georges*, were more aggressive about the issue. But he had reported back to the UEFA executive committee and been reassured when his colleagues pointed out to hm that the Common Market comprised only 10 countries, hardly a significant voice.

Georges died in 2004 aged 87. He spent nine years as UEFA president and was succeeded by Lennart Johansson who presided, Canute-like, over UEFA’s Bosman Law debacle.

So much has changed in the intervening 32 years.

But Platini is still making headlines.

And, once again, France is staging the finals of the European Championship.

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