Thursday, August 30, 2007

Michel Platini - VIDEO

Michel Platini
Michel François Platini (born June 21, 1955) is a French former football manager and midfielder, and current president of the UEFA (Union of European Football Associations).

Platini was part of the French national team that won the 1984 European Championship, a tournament in which he was the best player and top goalscorer. He participated in the 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cups, reaching the semi-finals in the latter two. Platini, Alain Giresse, Luis Fernández and Jean Tigana together made up the "carré magique" (French for "magic square"), the group of players that formed the heart of the French national team throughout the 1980s.

He was a notable free kick taker, as demonstrated by his numerous goals from dead-ball situations with the national team and with Juventus, where Platini played for five years and won most of his club career honours.

Platini was named Chevalier (Knight) of the Legion of Honour on April 29, 1985 and became Officier (Officer) in 1988. He was the French national team coach for four years, and was the co-organizer of the 1998 World Cup in France. He has also been the chairman of the FIFA Technical and Development Committee, and vice-president of the French Football Federation
[edit] Platini's club career

[edit] Platini at Nancy (1972-1979)
Platini was quick to make a big impression at his new club, scoring a hat-trick in a reserve team match against Wittelsheim. Further outstanding displays put him in contention for a place in the Nancy first team. His introduction to the first-team squad was inauspicious. On the substitutes' bench for a match against Valenciennes, Platini was spat on and hit by various objects thrown from the crowd when a fight broke out in the stands. Playing for the reserves a few days later, a hefty challenge from an opponent left Platini with a bad ankle injury. His season would finish on a more positive note, and he would go on to make his league debut against Nîmes on May 3, 1973.

In March 1974, he suffered a setback when he sustained a double fracture of his left arm in a match at Nice. Platini missed the remainder of the season as a result, unable to assist Nancy in an unsuccessful bid to avoid relegation from Ligue 1. The following season saw Nancy win promotion back to the French first division with ease. Platini became the team's most important player, scoring 17 goals, a number of which were scored from free-kicks, as was becoming Platini's speciality. Saint-Étienne, the then reigning French league champions, were knocked out of the French Cup with two goals from Platini free-kicks. Platini practised his free-kicks with the help of his friend, goalkeeper Moutier, and using a row of dummies to form a defensive wall of sorts.

With Nancy back in Ligue 1, Platini's military service reduced his availability for matches, but he continued to make himself available to play when possible. In a match away to Laval, Platini, angered by the taunts of the home supporters, scored a hat-trick, but unluckily sustained another injury. Press reports claimed that Platini's season was over and that he would require a knee operation, but neither claim proved to be correct. Instead, Platini returned to first-team football two weeks later for Nancy's French Cup semi-final against Marseille at the Parc des Princes. Platini headed the only Nancy goal in their 4-1 loss and was forced to leave the field injured.

Following his participation in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, Platini signed a two-year contract with Nancy, his first professional contract.

Before travelling to Argentina for the World Cup, Platini won the first major trophy of his playing career, captaining Nancy to victory in the 1978 French Cup final against Nice and scoring the only goal of the game. President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing presented him with the trophy. However, with the World Cup scheduled to start two weeks after the cup final, there was little time left for preparation.

Although Platini was not disgraced by his performances at his first World Cup, fans held him responsible for the French team's failure to progress in the tournament, and in the season that followed he was a target of jeering crowds. The situation came to a head in a match away to Saint-Étienne. Spurred on by booing fans, Platini competed for every ball, and he picked up a bad ankle injury in a tackle. As a result, he was ruled out of Nancy's Cup Winners' Cup campaign. His contract with the club expired in June 1979, and Inter Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, and Saint-Étienne emerged as the clubs most likely to sign him, although the Nancy club president had been unwilling to let Platini leave the club. Having set his mind on a transfer to Saint-Étienne, he signed a three-year contract with les Verts.

In spite of his injuries and the boos that would greet him, Platini maintained his pranksterish sense of humour. On away trips, he would set off firecrackers in public places and then pretend to be dead, inevitably drawing a crowd. While in Argentina for the World Cup, he would squeeze tubes of toothpaste into his team-mates' beds.


[edit] Platini at Saint-Étienne (1979-1982)
Platini's three years at Saint-Étienne were a mixed success. The club had signed him with a view to success in the European Cup, but despite some excellent results (including a 6-0 win over PSV Eindhoven in the 1979-80 UEFA Cup and a 5-0 win at Hamburg in the UEFA Cup the following season), the club were unable to surpass the feats of the Saint-Étienne side that had reached the final of the 1976 European Cup.

Platini won a French league title in 1981, but was on a losing Saint-Étienne side in two French Cup finals, against Bastia in 1981 and against Paris Saint-Germain in 1982, in what was his last match for the club before joining Juventus.


[edit] Platini at Juventus (1982-1987)
At Juventus, in a team featuring numerous members of Italy's victorious World Cup squad, Platini had a difficult introduction to Italian football. He was a target in the demanding Italian sports media, and even came close to leaving Italy in the winter of his first season. Platini and team-mate Zbigniew Boniek successfully called for a change in tactics, and in the second half of the season Juventus saw an upturn in their fortunes. They reached the European Cup final, losing to Hamburg, and won the Italian Cup, the first of many club honours to follow for Platini in the coming seasons. He won the Italian championship with Juventus in 1984 and 1986, the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1984, the 1984 European Super Cup, the European Cup in 1985, and the 1985 World Club Championship. He finished top scorer in Serie A for three consecutive seasons (1982-83, 1983-84 and 1984-85), and won a hat-trick of European Footballer of the Year awards (1983 through 1985). Platini was also voted Player of the Year by World Soccer magazine in 1984 and 1985.

The 1985 European Cup final against Liverpool at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels should have been the crowning moment of Platini's Juventus career. The stadium was not fit to stage a match of such importance, and before the teams had kicked off, a wall collapsed under the weight of Juventus fans rushing to avoid a group of Liverpool fans who had made their way into section Z of the ground. 39 people died, and 600 more were injured. It was decided to proceed with the match in order to avoid inciting any further trouble, and after both captains had appealed for calm, the match began just under an hour and a half beyond schedule, with riot police still engaged in a pitched battle with Juventus fans. (See Heysel Stadium disaster.) Platini scored the only goal of the match from a penalty kick awarded for a foul on Zbigniew Boniek that had taken place outside the penalty box. The fact that the foul was given seemed to suggest that the penalty was used as a means to prevent the match being prolonged any further. In the days following the final, Platini was criticised in some quarters for his lack of restraint in celebrating Juventus' win. In his own defence, Platini maintained that like every other player on the field, he had not been made fully aware of the scale of the disaster.

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