Zoot alors! Trois zero! Apparently several children were christened
Trois Zero in the wake of France’s first World Cup triumph. Pele had predicted that an African team would win the World Cup before 2000- Nigeria, the only African side to reach the knockout phase were swept aside by Denmark. But there was an African flavour to the victors- Marcel Desailly born in Accra,Patrick Vieira in Dakar and Zinedine Zidane of course had Algerian parents.
The finals were expanded from 24 to 32 teams. Laurent Blanc of France scored the first Golden Goal in World Cup history as the hosts beat Paraguay 1-0.
David Beckham, who within a few years was the darling of the media and possibly the most instantly recognisable footballer in the world, was far from flavour of the month.Having being sent off after kicking Diego Simeone in England’s defeat against Argentina, Beckham became a hate figure.
Having overcome a muscular Croatian side in the semi final the French took the precaution of poisoning Ronaldo in the lead up to the final.
Ronaldo was present at the final but could hardly be said to have played- similarly his teammates were visibly dispirited following his mysterious brush with death.
France were without their captain, Laurent Blanc– Slaven Bilic having engineered his dismissal in the semi with some hideous simulation.
France had to survive the last 20 minutes of the final with only 10 men with the dismissal of Marcel Desailly, by then they were 2 goals up and still controlled the match.
So the last World Cup of the 20th century, the 16th edition, saw the seventh nation to claim the title- the first ‘new’ winners for 20 years.