MOSCOW – France managed to overcome mistakes and imperfections in their World Cup final victory over Croatia with sheer mental strength to lift the trophy for the second time, coach Didier Deschamps said on Sunday.
France overpowered Croatia 4-2 to lift the trophy and Deschamps became only the third man, after Brazil’s Mario Zagallo and German Franz Beckenbauer to win it both as player and coach.
But they were made to sweat for about an hour and needed an own goal and a penalty to take the lead.
“My greatest source of pride is they had they right state of mind,” Deschamps, who had captained France to the 1998 title, told reporters.
“Today there were imperfections. We did not do everything right, but we had those mental and psychological qualities which were decisive for this World Cup.”
France took the lead from a Mario Mandzukic own goal and they had to soak up a sustained Croatian offensive, including a 28th-minute equaliser, before going in front with a penalty.
They then struck twice midway through the second half to put the game beyond the Croats.
Deschamps said 14 of his players were World Cup newcomers, but they were ready to work towards a common goal and were mentally more mature than their age.
“Talent is not sufficient. You need the psychological and mental aspects. Any team is then able to climb mountains,” Deschamps said.
“Sometimes I can be hard very hard with them, but I do it for them and even though they are young, they usually do listen.”
Among the newcomers are Kylian Mbappé, who was voted young player of the tournament and scored France’s fourth goal.
“The collective is always important but there are individual players who have made the difference,” he said, naming Mbappe and man-of-the-match Antoine Griezmann.
“Those 23 players will now be linked forever, whatever happens.
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“They will go (on) different paths, but will forever be linked together, and from today, nothing will be the same professionally because they are world champions.
“We will realise what has happened tomorrow,” he said after his players stormed the news conference twice to douse him with champagne.
“At the moment, they do not know what it is to be world champions.”
The 49-year-old coach, who also led France to the Euro 2016 final only to lose in Paris to Portugal, said that defeat may have been key to winning the World Cup.
“Maybe if we were Euro champions, we would not have been world champions today. I learned a lot from that defeat,” he said.
“The Euro final was different. We tried to stay relaxed this time, and the players knew what they had to do and what was at stake.”