During the mid-80s, Michel Platini was widely regarded as one of the best, if not, the best footballer in the world. After being awarded the coveted Ballon d’Or award an incredible three years in a row from 1983 – 1985, Platini’s legacy was set in stone as one of the greats.
Only he went and ruined it all. On 21st December 2015, Platini and Sepp Blatter were found guilty of ethics violations and were banned from football for eight years. The ongoing FIFA Corruption case is the biggest the beautiful game has ever seen, and the man formerly known as Le Roi (The King), was a part of it.
Platini started his career at AS Nancy in 1972 where his father, Aldo, was a director. It didn’t take long for Platini to impress, after scoring a hat-trick early on for the reserve team. Despite suffering a bad ankle injury, Platini would finish the season by making his first-team debut against Nîmes on May 3rd 1973.
After seven years at Nancy, winning promotion back to Ligue 1 in 1975 and winning the Coupe de France in 1978, Platini’s contract at Nancy had expired and he joined Saint-Étienne on a three-year deal. At the time, Saint-Étienne were one of the best clubs in France, and by signing Platini, they aimed for European glory. Overall, Platini’s time at Les Verts was a mixed one. A Ligue 1 title in 1981 was a success but was outweighed by two cup final defeats to Bastia in 1981 and PSG in 1982.
After another three years it was again time for Platini to move on. This time he had the choice of some of the best and biggest European clubs. Juventus won his signature and Platini’s time in Italy would prove to be the most successful for the Frenchman.
“I played for Nancy because it was my hometown club and the best in Lorraine, for Saint-Étienne because it was the best team in France, and for Juventus because it is the best team in the world!”
Platini’s passing and vision is some of the best ever seen on a football pitch. Equally as comfortable with his left foot as he was his right, Platini is a rare breed of player who was able to make football look easy. In 1983 Platini was officially the greatest player on the planet as he was awarded his first Ballon d’Or. Juventus had won Serie A as well, capping off an incredible year.
The summer of 1984 would prove to be all about Le Roi. France hosted the European Championships with the fans expecting Platini to lead his team. He didn’t let them down. Platini carried his side to glory, scoring nine of his country’s fourteen goals, including two hat-tricks and one in the final. His nine goals at the tournament is still a record that stands today.
Platini was an orchestrator. Able to see things other couldn’t as well as being a goalscoring midfielder. Platini scored 312 goals in 580 appearances across France and Italy as well as scoring 41 goals in 72 for the French national team, a record that stood until Thierry Henry broke it on 17th October 2007.
“Michel was one of those great players who saw fitness work as being a bit superficial. He used to say, ‘We’re not going to compete in the 5,000 metres at the Olympics, we have to play with our feet’.”
Giovanni Trapattoni – Juventus manager 1976-1986
Platini’s time at Juventus saw him play his best football and saw him win it all. The 1985 European Cup came in between two Serie A titles and accompanied various other trophies, both collectively and individually, throughout his five seasons in Turin.
It’s a shame that so many people only see Platini as the corrupt politician who is part of the ugly side of football. For someone who bought so much joy to so many, his downfall is saddening but is essentially his own fault. Such a great captain, his leadership could have been a fine addition to FIFA, if applied correctly, but ultimately he’s fallen victim to his own greed.
His achievements as a player are written in the history books, however, and his status as one of the greatest footballers of all time deserves to remain.
Shocking that Platini never won a World Cup, yet these eight players have a medal…