Veteran Giroud ready to 'pass on the baton' to France's new generation

AFP , Friday 14 Jun 2024

Veteran France striker Olivier Giroud knows he is no longer a first choice for his country going into Euro 2024 and says he is ready to be a father figure for the emerging generation as Les Bleus aim to win the continental title for the first time in almost quarter of a century.

Olivier Giroud
France's Olivier Giroud speaks during a press conference in Paderborn, Germany, on Friday, June 14, 2024. France will play against Austria during their Group D football match at the Euro 2024 tournament on June 17. Photo: AP

 

France's all-time leading scorer with 57 goals from 133 caps, Giroud was a key member of the side that won the World Cup in 2018 and lost the final in Qatar in 2022.

However, the striker, who is leaving AC Milan to move to Los Angeles FC in Major League Soccer after the Euros, is aware that this will be his last major international tournament.

And Giroud, who made his debut for France in November 2011, before the arrival of current coach Didier Deschamps, is set to be a backup to Kylian Mbappe and Marcus Thuram in the French attack in Germany.

"I need to be realistic about the situation. I will be 38 soon, and I have made the decision to go to the United States," the former Arsenal man, who will celebrate his birthday in late September, told reporters at France's base in Paderborn, in western Germany, on Friday.

"We know that to be called up to the France team you need to be playing in a major European league.

"There will be lots of nostalgia and memories but I am trying not to think too much about all that.

"The main objective is a collective one. Personal objectives come after that."

European champions in 1984 and in 2000, France begin their campaign in Germany against Austria in Duesseldorf on Monday.

They will also face the Netherlands and Poland in Group D.

Giroud, who will team up with former France captain Hugo Lloris in Los Angeles, says he prefers to be seen as a "father" or a "big brother" by his younger teammates, rather than a "granddad".

He hopes to pass on his vast experience to a France squad featuring 11 players aged 25 or under who could all have a significant role to play at the tournament.

"I try to talk a lot on the pitch and to be there for the younger players if they need me, to help put them at ease," said Giroud, who played in the France team beaten by Portugal in the Euro 2016 final.

"There might be a gap of a few years, if not more, but I don't really feel out of step with them because in my head I am younger than my actual age.

"I like to have a laugh and take the mick as well and I enjoy the music they listen to."

Giroud also said he had a good relationship with Thuram, the Inter Milan striker who has been his rival at club level over the season just finished and is now ahead of him in the pecking order for the national team.

"It is time to pass on the baton," he admitted.

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