It’s unfortunate that when you think of Michel Platini and the European Championships today, the contentious format of Euro 2020 probably comes to mind first. That multi-host idea was his baby.
Really, we should all sit back and revel in his magnifique midfield exploits at Euro 84, one of the finest tournament displays by a team and individual player. Eventually Diego Maradona took the undisputed crown with his one-man show in 1986, but for two glorious years Platini was le Roi.
France 84 was quite the fortnight. Platini scored nine goals, including a perfect hat-trick against Belgium, the winner in a thriller with Portugal and – in the final against Spain– a crucial (if keeper-assisted) free-kick opener. That side’s greatest feat, though, was just getting over the line.
Les Bleus had been an absolute shambles in the 1970s, and even Platini’s golden generation managed to lose two World Cup semi-finals in ’82 and ’86. The difference in ’84, according to Michel? He was fully fit.
Such failures were rare for Platini the player.
At Juventus he replaced Liam Brady (“you can stick it up your arse,” was the Irishman's short shrift to hearing the news) and initially struggled before inspiring the Old Lady to enormous success through elegance over energy. “I was the classic midfield organiser, who could also score goals,” was Platini's minimalist assessment.
With such a legacy, perhaps Platini should have just stuck to punditry after his playing days. But the sidelines didn’t suit him.
Four years as France manager dented the image: he failed to reach Italia 90, then built a fine-looking team for Euro 92 but went out in the group stage.
In 2007 he was elected UEFA president, but after promising beginnings as the first ex-player to assume the role, things went seriously awry. Accused of corruption, he’s now barred from football altogether. What a shame for a master of the game.
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