Monday, December 17, 2012

17 December 1953 - A Sign Of Things To Come For France

On 17 December 1953, striker Just Fontaine scored a hat-trick on his debut for France, but still didn't get another cap for three years.

Twenty years old at the time, Fontaine was mid-way through his first season with Nice after spending the first three years of his career with Casablanca, where he scored 62 goals in 48 appearances. He got off to an equally strong start at Nice, leading to his call-up for a World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg.

The match was inconsequential, as Les Bleus had already qualified for the tournament ahead of Luxembourg and the group's other member, Ireland, leading the French selection committee to field a team composed entirely of players making their first national team appearance. But playing before a crowd of 20,146 at the Parc des Princes in Paris, they were motivated to make a strong showing and close out their campaign with a perfect record.

Jean Desgranges got the scoring started in the second minute, followed by a quick brace from Jean Vincent (6', 10'). Fontaine scored in the 21st minute and France took the 4-0 lead into the break. In the second half, Jacques Foix scored in the 57th minute before Fontaine completed his hat-trick with goals in the 75th and 80th minutes. Desgranges added another in the 88th minute to set the final margin at 8-0 for France.

Despite the strong performance, Fontaine waited until 1956 to get his second cap and 1957 for his third. 1958 turned out to be his breakout year, though, as he led all scorers in that year's World Cup with thirteen goals as France claimed third place.

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