Ecstatic France players crashed Didier Deschamps’ press conference after their World Cup victory, chanting his name as they sprayed champagne, water and energy drinks on their coach and assembled journalists.
The players were corralled out of the room before returning a few seconds later, as Deschamps was drying himself off, singing “C’est pas fini”, dancing and jumping on to the press conference table.
“They are completely crazy those lads,” said a grinning, wet Deschamps after the players had left. “They’re young and they’re happy.” He had only just changed after being caught in the post-match downpour at the Luzhniki Stadium and was now soaked again. He said that in their post-match discussions he had told his players that life would never be the same for them after winning the trophy.
“Professionally there’s nothing above that,” said Deschamps, who won the trophy as a player in 1998. “Maybe they’re going to win other titles and I don’t want to undermine other titles, but when you are a professional footballer there’s nothing above that.
“I had an immense privilege to live through this as a player 20 years ago and it was in France, so it will be marked in my memory forever, but what the players did together today is just as beautiful. I have a son who is 22 years old. When we were world champions he was too young to understand and today there are young people who have this happiness to be able to live this event with us.”
Antoine Griezmann, who scored France’s second goal from the penalty spot, paid tribute to the diverse origins of the players in the France team: “That’s the France we love. They are different origins but we are all united. It’s the same in our team; there are many players who come from different horizons but we do have the same state of mind. We all play for the same jersey, for the cockerel and for our country. As soon as you wear the jersey you do everything for each other and it’s beautiful.”
There were some doubts over the decisions for the first two France goals, with the Argentinian referee, Néstor Pitana, awarding a soft free-kick that led to the first and then pointing to the penalty spot after consulting VAR over an Ivan Perisic handball. Griezmann scored the penalty to make the score 2-1.
Croatia’s manager, Zlatko Dalic, disputed the penalty but refused to blame the decision for the result. “In the World Cup final you do not give such a penalty but it in no way diminishes France’s win,” he said. “I respect the referee. He did what he saw, fair and square … With respect to VAR, when it goes in your favour it’s good, when it doesn’t it’s bad, that’s all I have to say.”
Griezmann said he pretended he was playing in a less important match to keep his cool while he waited for the referee to decide on the penalty appeal. “I just tried to stay calm and concentrate,” he said. “I just did the same trick I normally do for penalties and it’s working at the moment.”
Dalic said he told his players they should be proud of their achievements in an on-pitch huddle at the end of the match, and he also implored them not to dwell on any supposed injustices. “We were dignified in all our victories and we must be dignified in defeat,” he said. “We have to respect the scoreline.”
Dalic acknowledged that there was an element of luck in some of Croatia’s previous results, with the team needing penalties to win their last-16 game with Denmark and quarter-final with Russia.
“In the first six games we may have been favoured by luck, today not,” he said. “I have to congratulate my players for the game, maybe the best game we played in this tournament. We controlled the match but we conceded and against such a strong side as France you can’t make mistakes. We are a bit sad but we have to be proud as well for what we’ve done.”