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French football ‘colossus’ Henri Michel dies


Paris (AFP) – Former France football coach Henri Michel, who led Les Bleus to the 1984 Olympic title, has died at the age of 70, the French players’ union announced on Tuesday.

“Henri Michel, a colossus of French football, left us this morning,” the UNFP wrote on Twitter, adding their “sincere condolences to his family and friends”.

Born in Aix-en-Provence, Michel played in midfield for Nantes and earned 58 international caps between 1967 and 1980. He was a three-time winner of the French league title.

He took over France’s Olympic men’s squad in 1982, guiding them to the ’84 gold medal in Los Angeles where they beat Brazil in the final.

Michel then took over a France team containing Michel Platini which had just won the European Championships under the management of Michel Hidalgo.

“Aside from his extensive career Henri was an exceptional man,” said Platini, who played alongside Michel for the national team between 1976 and 1980.

“A faithful friend with a rare sense of loyalty. Someone with whom you could go to the end of the earth without ever doubting his support or presence.”

“What terrible news,” Hidalgo said. “I knew he’d had health problems but I hadn’t realised how serious they were.

“He was a great friend, a true professional, a great guy in every respect.”

Under Michel, France made it through to the 1986 World Cup semi-finals where they lost 2-0 to West Germany.

Michel’s time at the helm came to an unhappy end when his team failed to qualify for Euro 1988 and then drew 1-1 with Cyprus in a 1990 World Cup qualifier.

Following his time with France, Michel had a brief spell as coach of Paris Saint-Germain at the start of the 1990s, before managing a host of African teams, going to three further World Cups with Cameroon (1994), Morocco (1998) and Ivory Coast (2006).

His last post was a stay of a few months with Kenya in 2012.

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