France: Bradley Barcola following in legendary footsteps

France: Bradley Barcola following in legendary footsteps

Publish on 05/22 at 14:39 - G. BOXALL


Called up by Didier Deschamps for Euro 2024 despite never having been selected before, Bradley Barcola took advantage of his strong finish to the season to earn his ticket to Germany, much like others before him in the history of the French national team.

After a promising debut season with PSG, Bradley Barcola achieved his goal. With his dribbling skills and speed, the former Lyon player quickly caught the eye of his coach, Luis Enrique, and secured his place on the left wing of Paris's attack. Used 25 times in Ligue 1 Uber Eats, he stood out by posting good stats in his first season in the capital (4 goals and 7 assists).

After a logical adaptation period, the 21-year-old winger took off in the second half of the season, scoring 3 goals and providing 5 assists in the league in 2024. During this period, he also delivered some standout performances in the Champions League knockout phase, which ultimately convinced coach Didier Deschamps. Although he had never been called up to the senior team before, the Lyon native was selected this Thursday in the list of 25 players for Euro 2024, starting on June 14. He follows in the footsteps of Franck Ribéry, Djibril Cissé, and Thierry Henry, other young French prospects who, before him, leveraged a good season in Ligue 1 Uber Eats to participate in a major international tournament.

Franck Ribéry, the Surprise of 2006

Season 2005/06. After less than six months at Galatasaray, Franck Ribéry returned to Ligue 1 Uber Eats, joining Olympique de Marseille. Immediately embraced by the Vélodrome crowd, the Northern Frenchman strung together outstanding performances and shone in the league. As OM finished fifth, he was voted the best young player in Ligue 1 Uber Eats by his peers. Raymond Domenech confirmed this choice by calling him up for the first time in May 2006 for the World Cup in Germany. Full of freshness, he won over the French fans and notably scored a memorable goal in the round of 16 against Spain. His story with the French national team began (81 caps, 16 goals).

Four years before him, Djibril Cissé had been the surprise of the previous World Cup squad, also after being named best young player at the UNFP Trophies. In 2002, for the World Cup in South Korea and Japan, the striker had made a strong mpact by joining Roger Lemerre's squad at the last moment, which was already filled with 1998 World Cup champions. It's worth noting that the number 9 had just completed a great season with AJ Auxerre, finishing as Ligue 1 Uber Eats top scorer (22 goals in 29 matches).

Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet, Two Young World Champions

Other former best young players in the league, Thierry Henry in 1997 and David Trezeguet in 1998, also secured their places in the French national team a few months before a major tournament. At just 20 years old, the two AS Monaco stars convinced Aimé Jacquet to select them for the 1998 World Cup in France by delivering impressive seasons despite their young age. First called up in October 1997, Henry totaled 4 goals and 9 assists in 30 league matches, while Trezeguet (first cap in January 1998) found the net 18 times in 27 appearances for ASM. Other players from Monaco's academy, Manuel Amoros and Bruno Bellone, also experienced this joy, being called up late by Michel Hidalgo for the 1982 World Cup after a great season with Monaco.

Olivier Giroud and Mathieu Valbuena, Newcomers at 25

After the failure of the 2010 World Cup, the French team was rebuilding under Laurent Blanc. As Euro 2012 approached, the coach decided to call up Olivier Giroud in November 2011. At 25, the striker was in top form with Montpellier Hérault SC, the surprise Ligue 1 Uber Eats champions a few months later. The league's top scorer with 21 goals (plus 9 assists), the Chambéry native convinced the coach with a strong finish to the season and was part of the squad for Poland and Ukraine.

Mathieu Valbuena also discovered the French team at 25, less than a month before the 2010 World Cup. French champion and League Cup winner with OM, after earning his starting spot under Didier Deschamps after the winter break, "Petit Vélo" was taken to South Africa by Raymond Domenech. The coach had done something similar in 2008 by calling up Bafétimbi Gomis for the Euro in Austria and Switzerland. The 22-year-old striker had just had a big season (16 goals in 35 matches), finishing fifth with AS Saint-Etienne.

Not a First for Didier Deschamps

French team coach since July 2012, Didier Deschamps has already called up players at the last moment who convinced him with strong performances in Ligue 1 Uber Eats. In 2014, he called up Rémy Cabella (then 24) for the World Cup in Brazil. Having had his best season with Montpellier HSC (14 goals, 6 assists), the attacking midfielder earned his first cap on May 27, 2014, during the preparation matches.

Regarding Youssouf Fofana and Randal Kolo Muani, they tasted the French team for the first time just two months before the 2022 World Cup, while Axel Disasi earned his first cap in late November 2022 before traveling to Qatar. For Samuel Umtiti, the story is even more incredible. Called up by Didier Deschamps for Euro 2016 after being a reserve player, without ever having been called up before, the central defender earned his first cap during the tournament, in the quarter-finals against Iceland on July 3, 2016.