He’s won the World Cup, the European Championship and the Champions League – Didier Deschamps has a very impressive CV. As an international coach, he guided France to the quarterfinals of his first World Cup, which they lost to Germany. The 46-year-old spoke to DFB.de about the World Cup, the 2016 European Championship in France, Rudi Völler, Manuel Neuer and Pep Guardiola.
DFB.de: EURO 2016, the next major tournament, takes place in France. As head coach of the national side, do you feel an added responsibility, Monsieur Deschamps?
Deschamps: No, I always feel responsible and of course there will be pressure. France host the tournament and obviously the supporters will be expecting a lot. Winning the European Championship would be a huge success and if you want to achieve great things you need to perform well.
DFB.de: You captained France to victory in EURO 2000. What are your goals for 2016?
Deschamps: You always want to go as far as possible in every major tournament. We felt this way in Brazil even though we weren’t one of the favourites. This ambition should always be there, but of course, the opponents have the same goals. There will be some tough opponents in the tournament but you always need to have a target.
DFB.de: The last time France hosted a tournament, they won it. Do you think a repeat is possible?
Deschamps: It certainly would be great but you never know what is going to happen. The benefit of hosting a tournament is the incredible support you get from your fans every day, which can help enormously.
DFB.de: You captained the side in the 1998 World Cup final as Laurent Blanc was suspended. What do you remember about the day?
Deschamps: It was a privilege to climb the stairs of the Stade de France as captain and lift the trophy. I enjoyed every moment. Lots of fantastic players have lifted the trophy previously and then it was me! Winning a World Cup is a wonderful feeling and I hope that we can do it again in the near future.
DFB.de: Germany knocked you out in Brazil. Did you think you could win the game?
Deschamps: Of course. There wasn’t much in it. We faced the best team in the tournament – they were the most experienced. Since 2006, Germany have been in the final or semis of every major tournament. They scored early on and we couldn’t find a way past Manuel Neuer. We needed a little bit more energy and prowess in front of goal that day.
DFB.de: What were the strengths of that Germany side?
Deschamps: Their unity! They’ve played together for years and are hugely experienced. They also had fantastic individual players – veterans who knew the game well and youngsters with plenty of energy and technique.
DFB.de: Did Germany deserve to win the tournament?
Deschamps: Of course, they were the best team in the tournament, without a doubt!
DFB.de: What did you make of the 7-1 win over Brazil?
Deschamps: Brazil were overwhelmed. The game was too much for their weakened side. They couldn’t find any rhythm or sharpness. Once they went 5-0 down after half an hour they disappeared. There was no sign of an antidote for the Seleção. It was an historic victory for Germany.
DFB.de: You were 46 years old when you coached at the World Cup…
Deschamps: People have always told me that coaching at international level is for older coaches. I had fun. I have gained experience at three clubs and wanted to test myself further, which I am currently doing.
DFB.de: What is your footballing philosophy?
Deschamps: The aim is to beat the opposition – everything else depends on their strengths. I want my teams to play attacking football, maintain possession well and not chase shadows. Although when you face teams like Spain or Germany you see less of the ball. I don’t want my teams to only be reactive.
DFB.de: You’ve coached Monaco, Juventus and Olympique Marseille. Which was the hardest?
Deschamps: Coaching is difficult everywhere. Especially in Marseille – it goes from one extreme to another there quite quickly. I was there for three years and we won six titles, but daily life in the role is challenging.
DFB.de: You played in France, Italy, England and Spain. How does this help you?
Deschamps: It helps a lot as I’ve got experience of varying cultures, lifestyles and mentalities. My past with Juve meant that I understood the club well before I returned as coach. Managing a club in England or Spain would further benefit me, maybe one day I will get an opportunity to work there.
DFB.de: Why are you yet to get involved with a German club?
Deschamps: I’m yet to have the chance! I have got to know a lot of German players in my time. I played with Rudi Völler at Olympique Marseille and we won the Champions League together. He was a top striker but also a great guy – a fighter, but funny and a great laugh. He was an important part of our team. I also played with Karlheinz Förster and Klaus Allofs at Marseille.
DFB.de: Would a job in the Bundesliga interest you?
Deschamps: Of course, but I would need to learn German first. It would be impossible if I couldn’t speak the language. Coaches need to be able to communicate with their players. Pep Guardiola had to learn German for example. Communication is crucial.
DFB.de: France have qualified for EURO 2016 as hosts. Is that an advantage or a disadvantage?
Deschamps: We have the advantage of playing some prestigious friendlies. We’re taking them very seriously, as if we are really playing for points. We have three goals: Firstly, we want to be ready for the competition in two years’ time. Secondly, the players should gain more experience, as well as the new boys. And thirdly, we want to win Group I – we want to treat it like a normal competition.
DFB.de: You have a very young squad. Do you think that players like Pogba and Varane can reach their very best by 2016?
Deschamps: They were already very good in Brazil! One plays at Juventus, the other at Real Madrid, so they will be even better come 2016. At only 21 years old they are already very mature.
DFB.de: Your contract runs until 2016. Can you picture remaining in charge beyond that?
Deschamps: Why not? I have had talks with the presidents, who would like to extend my stay, so we’ll see. I like the job a lot; it’s great fun. But obviously, you also need to get the results.