One of the most exquisitely gifted football players of his generation, Fifa presidential candidate Michel Platini likes to portray himself as an old-fashioned romantic with a mission to maintain the game’s purity.
"There are times in life when you have to take your destiny into your own hands," he said on Wednesday, announcing his bid to replace Sepp Blatter at the helm of the beleaguered world football body.
"I am at one of those decisive moments, at a juncture in my life and in events that are shaping the future of Fifa."
Some may wonder whether the moody Frenchman is the right man to clean up an organisation mired in a graft scandal reaching its top echelons.
Once a protege of Blatter, the 60-year-old Platini has turned into one of the biggest critics of the Swiss and been outspoken in his criticism of the corruption allegations. "I am the first one to be disgusted by this. I have stomach trouble when I think about the Fifa problem," he said in May.
The former France captain, the Uefa president since 2007 and a Fifa executive committee member since 2002, has written to the 209 member associations of Fifa, who each hold one vote in the presidential election, to inform them of his decision.
With eight years experience as Uefa president, he may have some strong ideas about how to reform the organisation when Blatter steps down in February.
If he has said little about what should be done to weed out corruption in Fifa, his record gives clues about how he would handle the future of a game that embraces all continents and is a huge global business.
One of Platini’s first moves at Uefa was to introduce a two-tier qualifying system for the flagship Champions League, making the lucrative group stage more accessible to clubs from eastern Europe and lower-ranked European countries. He resisted pressure to introduce technology to help with refereeing decisions, instead preferring extra officials on each goal line. Other Uefa policies have shown a less romantic, less ‘purist’, more businesslike side to Platini.
Some critics have accused him of turning Uefa into a slick, financially successful and yet ultimately charmless organization, where elite clubs have thrived and others have to sell their best players to stay afloat. Under Platini, Uefa has steered money and power to the clubs and leagues that are already the most established, particularly through the market pool system where club revenue depends on the size of their country’s television market.
This has led to the same few teams dominating the Champions League, shutting out smaller outfits such as French provincial side St Etienne, who won the last of their league titles back in 1981 when Platini was in their team.
English FA back Platini
The English Football Association have thrown their weight behind Platini's bid to succeed Sepp Blatter as Fifa president.
"We support Michel Platini's candidacy," FA chairman Greg Dyke said in a statement. "We have a good relationship with him and hope he can gain the necessary global backing to lead a new Fifa during the most difficult period in its history.
"We understand there will be a number of candidates, which should result in a strong and healthy debate. However, we should not underestimate how challenging it will be for anyone to lead an organisation that has been so tainted. The whole structure of Fifa must be reviewed and fundamentally changed."
Dyke said Platini was the best man to bring about reform at world football's scandal-plagued governing body.
"With FA vice-chairman David Gill newly-appointed to the Fifa executive committee and the level of worldwide scrutiny on the reform process, the opportunity is there to bring about positive change," Dyke added.
"While we have yet to see Mr Platini's manifesto, we believe he will fully support an ongoing reform process."