Zidane steals show at France training camp

CLAIREFONTAINE - Zinedine Zidane stole the show at a France's training camp on Wednesday in a sign that Les Bleus had a long way to go to erase the memory of their South Africa World Cup disgrace.

The maestro of France's 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 winning teams had been invited to the Clairefontaine training camp by new coach Laurent Blanc ahead of a Euro 2012 qualifier against Belarus on Friday.

After watching a public training session, where he won more applause from some 300 fans than the current internationals, and playing football-tennis with a team made of members of the staff, Zidane had lunch with the players and chaired a meeting.

"I was invited to share my experience with the players. As you know, I don't like to make long speeches. I just wished them good luck for the Euro," he told journalists.

"I also told them that I hoped they would be able to live great moments with the France team as I did and that would come through victories because it's what will be remembered."

Blanc, who took over from Raymond Domenech after France exited the World Cup without a win and the players boycotted a training session in South Africa, said Zidane's visit was part of his plan to rebuild the national team.

"To be able to exchange with players of another generation can only help," said Blanc.

"They can explain that despite having had an extraordinary career at club level, the thing that changed their lives was to play for France. That's a spirit the young players need to recapture," he added.

"The France team is not as essential to the players as it used to be and that has to change, otherwise there will always be problems."

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