Some World Cup moments are filled with joy, some with despair. Some will be remembered for the right reasons, others for wrong. While picking out France’s greatest moments (a place in the tournament’s very conception, and final victory over the mighty Brazil in 1998 as host), it’s also hard to forget those which made negative headlines – the failure to qualify in 1994, the opening defeat to Senegal in 2002, Zinedine Zidane’s infamous head-butt in 2006 and the player strike of 2010.
The first FIFA World Cup may have been hosted and won by Uruguay in 1930, but the first man to get his hands on the trophy was a Frenchman named Abel Lafleur. Known for specialising in the female form, the sculptor was commissioned to create the trophy for the inaugural tournament. It was originally named ‘Victory’, but later renamed the ‘Jules Rimet Trophy’ in honour of the former FIFA president Jules Rimet, another Frenchman, who was responsible for conceptualising the tournament itself.
Interestingly, it was France which competed in the opening fixture against Mexico and scored first through Lucien Laurent, winning 4-1 in Montevideo. Speaking to fifa.com, Laurent recalled that historic moment many years later. “One of my teammates centred the ball and I followed its path carefully, taking it on the volley with my right foot. Everyone was pleased, but we didn't all roll around on the ground — nobody realised that history was being made. A quick handshake and we got on with the game. And no bonus either; we were all amateurs in those days, right to the end.”