“If I can reverse the trend…”: left to start the Euro as a replacement, Olivier Giroud faces his last challenge with the Blues

“If I can reverse the trend…”: left to start the Euro as a replacement, Olivier Giroud faces his last challenge with the Blues

Olivier Giroud s’apprête à disputer sa septième compétition internationale avec les Bleus. MAXPPP – SPEICH Frederic

À 37 ans, le meilleur buteur de l’histoire des Bleus s’apprête à disputer sa dernière compétition avec la sélection. Un Euro qu’il débute dans la peau d’une doublure. Mais avec lui…

Olivier Giroud a haussé, un peu, le ton. "If I can turn the tide, I will. Believe me, I'm far from having left in a cooler, more relaxed state of mind. I'm here." A round of applause rang out. Staying behind the scenes of the press conference on Thursday, Benjamin Pavard clapped his hands. To calm down but also to salute the response of his friend and an attacker at the dawn of a new turn: in 28 days, in the event of a final, Giroud will play his final match with a French team of which he will have written some of the most beautiful pages but with which he begins the Euro in the shoes of a replacement.

"There will be a lot of nostalgia, of memories that will stay with me. But I try not to think about it too much, to concentrate and enjoy", concedes the 37-year-old striker, who will join his friend Hugo Lloris at Los Angeles FC in a few weeks.

Henri Émile: "He immediately had the intelligence to find his place"

After three successful seasons at AC Milan (132 matches, 49 goals), the hour precedes the farewells. She summons the small stories into the big one, this angry face against England in the quarter-finals of the 2022 World Cup, this second star and this Jules-Rimet trophy raised in the rain of Moscow in 2018. "My career has exceeded all my dreams, I feel fulfilled. I would be a little more if we won this Euro", he smiles, with the desire for a final revenge on this 2016 European Championship lost at home.

At the beginning, there was this first in blue, on November 11, 2011, against the United States (1-0), at the Stade de France. A baptism attended by Montpellier Henri Emile, sports coordinator for Laurent Blanc's staff. "When he arrived, I had seen him play so much at MHSC that I felt like I already knew him. He didn't surprise me, the man who was a SOM player and lives in Pérols smiled on the phone.

"I remember how easy he was. He has never caused any problem in his behavior, continues the historic steward of the Blues, 80 years old and still as active with the alumni of France 98 or the international club. He immediately had the intelligence to find his place.

Kylian Mbappé : "He always came to take away what was owed to him"

Giroud will have built it with the strength of a mind told over and over again, an unshakeable Christian faith and his goals, 57 in 133 capes. A record in selection which however assures him nothing. As always, the native of Chambéry, trained in Grenoble, must struggle with sideways glances. After having fought until the whistles and the most inappropriate comparisons, karting included.

“If I can reverse the trend…”: left to start the Euro as a replacement, Olivier Giroud faces his last challenge with the Blues

"He’s a legend of the France team. Often criticized, however", noted Kylian Mbappé in Ouest France, when describing the "dad" of the France team. "At 37, he's still here. He doesn't give up. He never gave up anything, anyway. He always came to get what was due to him", added the French captain.

Competition and tribute

Eternally starting over, Giroud's history in the national team imposes a final challenge on him. Blocked by Marcus Thuram, Inter player but “little brother” to whom he wants “to pass on the torch", the ex-Rossoneri begins his seventh international competition with the status of understudy. As since the 2018 World Cup, with the sequel that we know.

"It’s a bit like the story of my career at certain times. When I had my back against the wall, at Arsenal, at Chelsea, I always managed to bounce back", recalls the center forward, whose trajectory will have constantly taking the side roads, from Istres to Tours via La Paillade, before reconnaissance.

It was noisy last Sunday in Bordeaux. Giroud's final appearance in France with the rooster jersey was not crowned with success against Canada (0-0). But with a real tribute and an armband, entrusted by the group. "At first I said no. The guys insisted. […] That’s also the French team, this kindness, this respect." And him too, Olivier Giroud. For one last time.

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