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Ryan Smith On April - 6 - 2012

Legend Of Calcio: Michel Platini

Michel Platini was born 21st June 1955 in the tiny commune of Jœuf in north-east France. With a population of less than 8,000 today, it is hard to believe this little village, just an hours drive from Luxembourg, is the birthplace of one of the finest players ever to play the beautiful game. The 56 year-old has often been a controversial figure since his appointment head of UEFA in 2007, but the politics of football are of no interest to me, I am here to talk about Platini the player.

Before his move to Italy, Le Roi had already achieved great success at in his home nation. Platini started out playing for local club AS Jœuf when he was just 11 years of age, six years later and he was picked up by AS Nancy. This club was not Platini’s first-choice though, two trials at his favoured club FC Metz never came to anything due to health issues and injury, and this twist of fate would prove to be a wonderful stroke of luck for Nancy.

Platini made his debut as an 18 year-old for Les Chardons in May 1973, the first game of a truly remarkable career. The following season Nancy were relegated, and with just two goals in 24 games, Platini didn’t enjoy the finest debut season. The 1974/1975 campaign was when it all kicked off for the young prodigy, Platini scored 17 goals as Nancy were crowned French Ligue 2 champions, he also scored a breathtaking 13 goals in six domestic cup games. The following campaign he scored 22 goals as Nancy finished 7th on their return to Ligue 1, as well as another six in the Coupe De France, not bad for a midfielder.

Platini won the French footballer of the year in 1976, the year in which he made his full debut for his country at the Summer Olympics in Montreal. The youngster scored three goals in three games before France were dumped out in a 4-0 loss to East Germany. Three more seasons at Nancy saw Platini score 65 goals, including the winner in the 1978 Coupe De France Final against OG Nice. The previous year saw Platini finish 3rd in the Ballon D’or behind England’s Kevin Keegan and the winner, Denmark’s Allan Simonsen.

A move to AS Saint-Étienne followed in 1979, after a disappointing World Cup for France in 1978 which saw Les Bleus eliminated in the first group stages. Platini spent three seasons with Saint-Étienne, surpassing the 25 goal mark in every one of these. He won the Ligue 1 Championship in 1981, and was runner-up in the Coupe De France in 81′ and 82′. Platini once again finished third in the Ballon d’Or award of 1980, losing out to German duo Bernd Schuster and winner Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

This was all just a prelude to the main event though, Platini led France to semi-finals of the 1982 World Cup before joining Turin giants Juventus, the place where he would earn his place as one of the true footballing greats. His first season with The Old Lady saw him win the Coppa Italia, finish European Cup runner-up, and pick up the Capocannoniere with 16 league goals. On top of this, he won his first Ballon d’or in 1983, easily beating Kenny Dalglish and Simonsen in the vote.

The 1983/1984 season was believe it or not, even more successful. Platini won his first Serie A title, the European Cup Winners Cup and the UEFA Super Cup. He won the Capocannoniere for a second consecutive year, this time with 20 goals. And as if this wasn’t enough, he was crowned Ballon d’Or again. Platini was the best player in the world by this time, and if anyone questioned this, his performance at the European Championships in 1984 silenced the doubters. Platini smashed a record nine goals in the competition, including the opening strike as his team beat Spain 2-0 in the final. This was the first time France had won the competition, and to make it all the more sweeter, he lifted the trophy in the Parc Des Prince in Paris.

Just when it looked as though it couldn’t get any better, Platini continued to set the world alight. The 1984/85 campaign saw the Frenchman win his first and only European Cup, a 1-0 win over Liverpool. The winning goal? A Michel Platini penalty. The Bianconeri won the Intercontinental cup that same year, beating Argentinos Juniors on penalties, needless to say Platini scored the winner. A third Capocannoniere came at the end of season, Platini topping the Serie A scoring charts with 18 goals that year. Oh, and he won the Ballon d’Or for the third year in a row, the only player in history to have done so.

The 1985/1986 campaign saw him pick up another domestic title, this came before he lead his country to a third-placed finish in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. This was France’s best ever finish at the time, and Platini was instrumental to this, despite playing most of the competition whilst being injured. Platini’s final season at Juventus was disappointing, with a return of just five goals, he decided to call time on an incredible career.

Two league titles, Coppa Italia winner, European Cup winner, three-times Ballon d’Or winner and three-times Capocannoniere winner whilst at Juventus, Michel Platini is a Serie A legend and one of the best footballers of his generation.

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