William Saliba, Marseille, France
Les Bleus

Saliba and Clauss make France debuts

Publish on 26/03/2022 at 10:37 - I. HOLYMAN

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Marseille's William Saliba declared "I'm going to sleep very well" after celebrating his first appearance for France in Friday's 2-1 friendly win over Cote d'Ivoire, while Lens' Jonathan Clauss said making his international debut was "extraordinary".

Saliba, who is on loan at Marseille this season from Arsenal, came off the bench just before the hour mark to replace the injured Raphaël Varane and make his senior international debut at the stadium where he plays his club football.

 

"I'm very proud, there's lots of emotions. It's an honour to wear this shirt, especially at the Vélodrome. I'm going to sleep very well tonight, I'm very happy," said Saliba, who had five U21 caps before being called up to replace Bayern Munich's Benjamin Pavard this week.

 

 

"The coach told me he couldn't promise me anything, but that I should be ready if I were needed. So I gave my all in training, ensured I was ready if the coach needed me, and that's what happened today. I came on, and I'm very proud."

 

Les Bleus won the game thanks to Aurelien Tchouameni's goal in second-half added time — Olivier Giroud equalised three minutes after Saliba's Arsenal teammate Nicolas Pépé had opened the scoring on 19 minutes.

 

Saliba only celebrated his 21st birthday on Thursday, but displayed the sort of maturity on and off the ball he has shown with Marseille this term, even if he admitted to being nervous when coach Didier Deschamps told him he was to make his debut.

 

 

"When I knew I was coming on, there was a knot in my stomach. But everyone, my teammates and the fans, helped me settle in," said the Bondy-born defender, whose every touch was cheered by the capacity crowd.

 

"I didn't expect that, but it did me good. It gave me confidence that the fans cheered every time I got on the ball."

 

Clauss replaced Kingsley Coman two minutes from time to make his France debut at the age of 29 years and 181 days making him the oldest player to make a first appearance for Les Bleus since Steve Savidan in November 2008.

 

 

"It's extraordinary," said a jubliant Clauss on the Orange Vélodrome pitch as the squad was feted by the crowd following their dramatic victory.

 

Embraced by the former Lens prodigy Varane, Clauss pointed to the Manchester United defender and said, "It's also thanks to him."

 

>> ONE TO WATCH: Jonathan Clauss, France's new call-up

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