A defensive midfielder, Deschamps began his professional playing career with Nantes in 1985, making 110 appearances, but is best known for his time with Olympique de Marseille (1989-90, 1991-94) and Juventus (1994-99).
In April 1989, during his last season with Nantes, Deschamps earned his first cap for France, a 0-0 home draw against Yugoslavia. France failed to qualify for the World Cup in 1990 and 1994, but Deschamps took over as captain in 1996 and led the side to a period of success known as "the Golden Generation."
Under Deschamps' leadership, France advanced to the semi-finals in Euro '96 before losing on penalties to the Czech Republic. France then claimed the ultimate prize by winning the 1998 World Cup with a 3-0 win over Brazil in the Final. Two years later, Les Bleus won Euro 2000, becoming the first team to hold both titles simultaneously since West Germany did it in 1974.
Deschamps retired from international play in 2000 after making 103 appearances.
In 2001, he turned to management, starting with Monaco. He moved to Juventus for the 2006-07 season, then moved back to France in 2009 to helm his old club, Marseille where he stayed until taking charge of the French national team in 2012.