Fifa World Cup: We are here to write history, says French fan

Paul hopes France have a chance of making history by becoming the only team after Brazil in 1962 to defend the title

Paul at the stadium. - Photo by Rituraj Borakoty
Paul at the stadium. - Photo by Rituraj Borakoty

By Rituraj Borkakoty in Doha

Published: Sun 4 Dec 2022, 10:38 PM

Last updated: Mon 5 Dec 2022, 12:21 AM

Paul was working in Bolivia when his years of heartbreak and frustrations ended with the Zinedine Zidane-inspired France beating Brazil in the final of the 1998 World Cup in Paris.

Paul belongs to the generation of French football fans that was captivated by the magical brilliance of Michel Platini, Alain Giresse, Luis Fernández and Jean Tigana in the 1980s.

They were the greatest midfielders of their time and their intricate passing in the middle of the park made France an irresistible force back in the 1980s.

But despite the talent in that team, France faced heartbreaks in the 1982 and 1986 World Cups with their only international success coming in the 1984 Euro.

Paul was among the French fans that suffered even more when France even failed to qualify for the 1990 and 1994 World Cups.

Then the World Cup tournament came to France as Les Bleus dominated the tournament on home soil, beating Brazil 3-0 in the final to lift the famous trophy for the first time in history.

“I was 27 back then,” Paul, draped in French colours after the team’s 3-1 win over Poland in the round of 16 on Sunday, told this reporter.


“I was actually working in Bolivia, so I watched the game on a very small screen, it was very nice. But we could not see all the goals because the TV was not very good. But it was a great memory, we had finally won a World Cup!”

Now France, who won their second World Cup title in 2018, have a chance of making history by becoming the only team after Brazil in 1962 to defend the title.

“They have come here exactly for that reason. Everybody said we have to write history. Maybe, they know that Qatar is the place where they could write history,” he said.

“But the World Cup is very a big event, you need a bit of luck as well to win this tournament. We will need everything to be perfect to win again.”

Paul credits Didier Deschamps, a key member of the France team that won the 1998 World Cup, for the current team’s success in overcoming the injury issues.

France have reached the quarterfinals in Qatar despite missing their injured stars Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante.

“I think we have to thank our coach Deschamps for this. He is the captain of this ship. He has built a team that is not dependent on one player,” he said.

“He knows exactly what leadership is. If one player is missing, there is another player who would stand up and deliver.”

It’s the squad depth that has made France the overwhelming favourites in Qatar.

“It’s a great time to be a French football fan and it should last for a while I guess. I think it will last because we have a very good coach and some very good young players,” he said.

Paul has travelled to Qatar with his wife and their three little children who adore Kylian Mbappe, the French superstar who delivered an outstanding performance against Poland on Sunday with two second-half goals.

“My wife is actually from Nigeria, but she also supports France with our three kids,” Paul said with a big smile.

“And we also support Nigeria, her country. We are missing them in this World Cup. We hope to see them in the next World Cup.”

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