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Michel Platini: Bio and Stats

Michel Platini was one of the greatest midfielders of all time, and arguably France’s greatest player.  He was the main reason they won the 1984 European Championships, and his nine goals is still the record for one tournament. He also held the French scoring record and was the first player to win the Ballon d’Or three times in succession. After his playing career ended, he became a high ranking football administrator, which at times was controversial to say the least.

How it all began

Michel Francois Platini was born in Joeuf, north eastern France, in June 1955, to parents of Italian heritage. He began his football career with local team Joeuf at the age of 11, but failed a trial with Metz when he fainted during a breathing test. Aged 17 in 1972 he joined AS Nancy, the club whom his father Aldo had played for and was later a director.

He scored a hat trick for the reserves in one of his early games and continued to progress resulting in his first team debut in May 1973. He suffered a double fracture of his arm in March 1974, meaning that he missed the rest of the season in which Nancy were relegated. They immediately bounced back to promotion with Michel scoring 30 goals, many of which were his perfected free kicks. Two of his free kicks helped to knock league champions Saint Etienne out of the French Cup.

International call up

National service limited his availability in 1975/76, but he also turned out for the military team and was chosen for the France U23s and the 1976 Olympic qualifiers. He made his debut for the senior side in March 1976 in a 2-2 draw v Czechoslovakia in Paris and scored a trademark free kick. In the Montreal Olympics France reached the quarter finals but were beaten 4-0 by a full strength East Germany and had two players sent off. Platini married Christelle Bigoni in 1977 and they have been together ever since, having two children.

In November 1977, Platini scored from 30 yards in a 3-1 win over Bulgaria that clinched their place in the 1978 World Cup Finals in Argentina, their first appearance in the finals for 12 years. After the game he was voted third in the Ballon d’Or, formerly known as the European Footballer of the Year.   In February 1978 a pre-World Cup friendly against Italy saw Platini play particularly well, scoring two free kicks in a 2-2 draw although one was ruled out as the referee hadn’t blown his whistle. That caused many of the big clubs around the world to keep an eye on him.

First major honours

Later in 1978 he captained Nancy to the French Cup, heading the only goal against Nice in the final. Two weeks later he was off the World Cup but France went out at the group stage, losing to Italy and Argentina. Platini didn’t play badly, but the French public blamed him for their failure and he was regularly booed at league games in the 1978/79 season. He was made captain of the national team though.

When his contract expired in June 1979 he moved to Saint Etienne. His new side won the French Championship in 1981, Michel’s only French title, and were runners up in the French Cup in both 1981 and 1982. The last cup final was his final game for Saint Etienne and he moved to Juventus for £130,000, a nominal fee as he was out of contract.

1982 World Cup

Michel led his team to the 1982 World Cup in Spain and France reached the second stage despite only beating Kuwait in the first group stage. Victories over Austria and Northen Ireland then saw them through to the semi-finals where they were involved in one of the all-time classic games v West Germany. Platini gave France the lead from the penalty spot but the game finished 3-3 after extra time, after a remarkable incident when German goalkeeper Schumacher flattened Patrick Battiston so badly, he was taken to hospital. France lost the shoot-out 5-4 despite a goal from Platini.

Michel then resumed his club career with Juventus, a team packed with Italian stars that had won the World Cup, and he was given a hard time by the media and almost left in his first season. He scored 28 goals though as they won the Italian Cup and reached the European Cup Final, losing to Hamburg. He also won the Ballon D’or, only the second Frenchman to win it, after Raymond Kopa in 1958. The following season they won the League title and the European Cup Winners Cup as Platini won the fans round ahead of the highlight of his career, the 1984 European Championships.

1984 European Championships

The tournament was held in France and hopes were high for the host nation. Platini opened the tournament like a house on fire, scoring the winner v Denmark then a perfect hat-trick v Belgium. To round off the group stage he scored another hat trick v Yugoslavia as France topped the group amongst national euphoria, resulting in hm being called ‘Le Roi’ (the King). That clinched a place in the semi-finals v Portugal in Marseille and the game ended 1-1.  Portugal took the lead in extra time, but France levelled six minutes from time. With one minute to go Jean Tigana played the ball across to Platini and he hooked it home to win an absolute classic, and viewers in the UK heard commentator John Motson go into a frenzy.

platini (michel)

With the whole nation behind them, France won the final 2-0 v Spain in Paris with Platini scoring the opening goal, their first major honour. His nine goals is still easily a record for the finals, even though the competition has been enlarged, and no one else has scored more than six in one tournament.

European Cup triumph

In 1984/85 he finished as top scorer for Juventus for the third season in a row as they won the European Cup for the first time, defeating Liverpool 1-0 with a Platini penalty, but the game was sadly remembered for the deaths of 39 Italian supporters after clashes with Liverpool fans. Platini also won the Ballon D’or for the third season in a row, the first player to achieve the feat. Juventus also won the Intercontinental cup, beating South American Champions Argentinos Juniors 4-2 on penalties after a 2-2 draw, with Platini scoring the winning spot kick.

Juventus won the Italian League again in 1985/86 and then France went to the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. Platini wasn’t fully fit, but he helped them through the group stage and then scored as they defeated Italy 2-0 in the Round of 16. In the quarter finals, they drew 1-1 with Brazil in a superb game. Platini equalised for France five minutes before half time with what proved to be his final international goal. The game was decided by a penalty shoot-out and France won 4-3 despite Platini firing his spot kick over the bar. In the semi-finals France were beaten 2-0 by West Germany for the second World Cup in succession.

In the 1986/87 season Juventus finished runners up to Deigo Maradona’s Napoli and Platini only scored five goals. In April 1987 he played his last international for France, v Iceland, his 72nd during which time he scored 41 goals, a French record at the time, since being beaten by just Thierry Henry and Olivier Giroud.

Playing retirement

In June 1987 Platini announced his retirement from playing despite only being aged 32, and was feted by the fans after five tremendous years for Juventus during which he scored 103 goals in 222 games. Altogether in his career of over 650 games, he was never sent off. He did come out of retirement for one game, playing for Kuwait in a friendly v the Soviet Union in November 1988, becoming one of the small band of players to win caps for two countries.

His next move was to go into coaching and in November 1988 he was appointed as the head coach of France after they had made a bad start to qualifying for the 1990 World Cup. He was unable to arrest the slide as they failed to qualify, but they won eight qualifiers in a row for the 1992 European Championships in Sweden, and were unbeaten in 19 games going into the tournament. They went out at the group stage though without a win and Platini then resigned.

UEFA Presidency

He had been on the UEFA Technical development agency and rose through various UEFA and FIFA committees to become vice President of the French FA in 2006. A year later he stood for the UEFA Presidency and beat Lennart Johansson, who had held the role for 16 years, by 27 votes to 23. The day before the third place game in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, he collapsed with a suspected heart attack, but it turned out to be flu and he recovered to attend the final two days later.

In June 2015 FIFA President Sepp Blatter was being investigated in a corruption scandal in the USA and announced that he would step down from his post after 17 years. In September 2015 Platini said that he would stand for the post in the next election but days later he too was suspended for 90 days as the scandal widened.

In December 2015 the FIFA Ethics Committee banned Blatter and Platini from all football related activity for eight years over a payment of £1.3 million from Blatter to Platini in 2011, which Platini said was for technical advice. In 2019 Platini was also questioned over bribery allegations relating to the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. Platini appealed the ban on two occasions to no avail, but it was later reduced to four years. He was also fined 60,000 Swiss Francs which he refused to pay until the final outcome of the court case.

The case eventually came to a Swiss court in July 2022, and both Blatter and Platini were cleared of any wrong doing.

Michel Platini Career Stats

Full Name Michel François Platini
Date of Birth June 21, 1955
Place of Birth Joeuf, France
Nationality French
Position Midfielder
Height 1.79 m (5 ft 10 in)
Clubs Played For – Nancy (France)
– Saint-Étienne (France)
– Juventus (Italy)
Career Span 1972-1987
Career Highlights – UEFA European Championship Winner (1984)
– Ballon d’Or Winner (1983, 1984, 1985)
– Serie A Winner (1983/1984, 1985/1986)
– Coppa Italia Winner (1982/1983, 1989/1990)
– UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Winner (1979/1980)
Career Appearances 550
Career Goals 297
International Caps 72
International Goals 41

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