France’s World Cup and European championship winning captain Didier Deschamps was named coach of the national side on Sunday, the French Football Federation (FFF) announced on its Web site.
The 43-year-old — who captained France to the 1998 World Cup and the Euro 2000 trophies — replaces former teammate Laurent Blanc, who turned down a new two-year contract last weekend.
Blanc had guided France to the Euro 2012 quarter-finals — the minimum requirement of the FFF — but dressing room discord and two outbursts by Samir Nasri had not helped Blanc’s cause.
Deschamps immediately became the favorite and lent credence to the fact by quitting Olympique de Marseille on Monday last week.
“Noel Le Graet, president of the FFF, and Didier Deschamps reached agreement after the conclusion of their talks for him to be named France coach,” the statement read.
Both men were scheduled to hold a press conference yesterday afternoon.
Frederic Thiriez, president of the French Professional League, welcomed the appointment unreservedly.
“Didier Deschamps is obviously the man of the moment,” Thiriez said. “The French team needs in this difficult context a man of his stamp and experience. He can naturally count on the support without fail of the professional football world in France.”
Deschamps contract is expected to be for two years — taking him up to the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil, with another two likely to be on the table should they qualify. He is expected to be assisted by his faithful Marseille lieutenant Guy Stephan.
Deschamps’ first task will be to prepare the squad for a high-profile friendly with Copa America champions and World Cup semi-finalists Uruguay in Le Havre, France, on Aug. 15, while their first World Cup qualifier is against Finland on Sept. 7.
However, with just one automatic qualifying spot up for grabs, France face a tough task as European and world champions Spain are in the same group. Belarus and Georgia are the other two sides.