The Best French Soccer Players In The History of the Game

The game of football is, without doubt, one of the most loved games in the world of sports. Known as the Game of Champions, it’s played in most countries worldwide, but there are a few who excel at it beyond all standard measures. If you’re playing the soccer odds, it’s well worth knowing where your bread is buttered best; countries like the UK, Brazil, and France are among the best ever to have taken the pitch.

While football isn’t the thing that the French are best known for (the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, cheese, baguettes, good champagne), soccer has been a French pastime since 1863. They have produced many talented and famous players who have risen to the top of the sport; let’s check a few of them out.

Marcel Desailly

Centre-back isn’t one of the positions that France does best, but Marcel Desailly is one incredibly gifted player. Over the course of his illustrious career, Desailly has been capped 116 times and received a World Cup Championship medal. The only blemish on his otherwise spotless reputation was his being sent off in the 1998 FIFA World Cup, which was a blow for the French team. Named as French captain after Didier Deschamps stepped into retirement, Desailly was the most capped French player of all time in 2003, and he has only been bettered by Thierry Henry and Lillian Thuram.


Laurent Blanc

Yes, goalkeepers deserve to make lists like this too! Blanc was an absolute tower of a man and an almost irreplaceable part of the French side well into his thirties, which is longer than many players will stay on. When he retired in 1994, France was bereft; so much so that they managed to coax him out of his retirement and built a team around his skills. This approach worked well for the team, which went on to incredible success in 1998 and to score the World Cups’ first-ever Golden Goal. In 2000, Blanc was paired with Desailly at the back of the field, and together these two players were a formidable team.


Didier Deschamps

Didier Deschamps was a truly unique player. He’s on our best players list because he was incredible, but he was also famous for another reason. Deschamps was nicknamed “the water carrier”, and though many people at the time saw this as a derogatory nickname, it really explained his position quite well. Though a gifted player himself, Deschamps knew when to take the ball and pass it along to someone in a better position or more skilled for the play than he was. The importance of this position and this ability in the French team cannot be understated. Deschamps did so well in it that he was named the French team Captain for the 1998 Championship and was the first French player ever to lift the cup in 2000 when they won the Euro Championship.

Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry had many highlights during his career, but the one that will always stand out in the minds of football fans will be THAT handball (don’t pretend you don’t remember it) that kept Ireland out of the World Cup. Capped 119 times over the course of his career and holding the French record for most goals scored (51), Henry is skilled beyond the level of the average player. He played in both the 1998 World Cup and the Euro Cup in the year 2000 on winning sides and was on the French team that took the Confederations Cup in 2003 and played in the World Cup FInal in 2006.


Raymond Kopa

Though he played a little longer ago than most of the players on our list, Raymond Kopa must be remembered for his contributions to French football culture. Kopa was clearly gifted even early on in his career; he won the Young Player of the Tournament and Player of the Tournament in two separate world cups, in 1954 and 1958. When Kopa was on the field in 1958, he played alongside football royalty like Garrincha, Pele, and Just Fontaine, so his winning that award proves just how good he really was.

Zinedine Zidane

You didn’t think we’d forgotten about Zidane, did you? His headers in 1998 alone would make most players famous for a lifetime, but Zidane was never a one-hit-wonder. In 2006 he proved that his header skills were still intact, and he proved once again why he really was France’s crown jewel. Although it was thanks to Cantona being banned that Zidane initially made it onto the French side, he’s more than proven that he earned his place there. He was absent in the first matches of the 2002 world cup due to injury, but it didn’t take him long to get back on his feet and prove to his teammates how necessary a player he was. Zidane’s been a player of the Tournament, scored in two World Cup Finals, and won three Player of the Year awards.


Wrap Up

Those are our picks for the best French players of all time. Did your favourite make the list?

More European Football News