Why Does France Keep Producing World Class Football Talent?
France headed to the World Cup in Russia this summer as one of the pre-tournament favourites to lift the trophy. The entire country was behind them, with a true indicator being that French gamblers actually set a record with regards to betting on the World Cup. In Russia, the French team did really impress, and they soon gathered momentum which saw them make it to the final where they eventually beat Croatia 4-2 to lift the World Cup for the second time. They did this with an impressive group of players, but why do France have the knack of being able to produce world class football talent?
At the 2018 World Cup, France’s squad featured a superb range of players of all ages. They had younger stars such as Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Benjamin Pavard involved. While there were also places for those in their mid-twenties like Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante and spots for elder statesmen such as Hugo Lloris, Olivier Giroud and Adil Rami. The ability of the squad was certainly noticed by many with betting volumes setting new records during the tournament.
So, just how do France produce talent that makes them a feared force consistently? Well, football is by far and away the number one sport in France, especially in the Parisian suburbs where a lot of the talent is found. In many of the suburbs in Paris, football isn’t just the favoured past time of most, it’s the only past time, as backed up by comments by France’s Paul Pogba. Speaking in 2016, Pogba said, “Whether it’s at school or outside in the neighbourhood, everyone will play soccer. And that helps people to not stay in the neighbourhood doing nothing and doing stupid things. Every day it’s the ball. That’s all there is.”
There’s also a commitment by many families in France to help their sons go on to make it as professional footballers, helping them to reap the rewards that come with it. This gets young players off to a great start and then if they’re good enough, they’ll be noticed by scouts. Professional clubs know where to look for the best young talent and what exactly to look for, it’s a structure that has worked for years and this is also one of the reasons why France produce the talent that they do, because the formula is proven.
France also plays home to the national football academy known as Clairefontaine, which is now into it’s 30th year of operation. This centre has seen players such as Thierry Henry and Kylian Mbappe develop, with the talent hub featuring over 300 beds, ten football pitches, a games room, cinema, library and much more. It’s the ideal place for talent to be nurtured and it has also been the inspiration for other centres such as St Georges Park in the UK. In fact, these are some of the similarities with other countries that pleasantly surprised fans and pundits at the World Cup 2018.
So it is easy to see why France produce the talent they do on a consistent basis as the country is geared up for football. It’s the national sport and playing the game is still the favoured past time for most children growing up. France also possess a blueprint for success that has often produced quality footballers who have gone on to make an impact at the very top of the professional game.