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Platini, from number 10 to number one

The legend defeats Lennart Johansson of Sweden in a vote for he UEFA presidency and will now lead European football into a new era.

india Updated: Jan 26, 2007 18:35 IST

As many French football fans would testify, Michel Platini cut an unlikely figure during his brief stint as coach of the national team.

However, few would deny that the former France and Juventus legend -- one of only a few players to be voted European footballer of the year three times -- was always destined to play a leading role in the game.

Platini on Friday achieved his dream of being given the chance to lead European football into a new era when he defeated incumbent chief Lennart Johansson of Sweden in a vote for the UEFA presidency.

The scene is now set for the 51-year-old Frenchman to build on his promise of giving the smaller nations a bigger voice in the 52-member association during his four-year tenure.

"It's the start of an adventure," said an emotional Platini after winning the vote.

"I want to thank everyone who have stayed loyal to me. I'm delighted to be able to represent European football."

Born the son of a stonemason from Piedmont in Italy, Platini made his name as a swashbuckling number 10, the number attributed to the playmakers who usually combine goal-creating qualities with goal-scoring skills.

In both, Platini was one of the best.

In the 1980s, during spells with Nancy, Saint Etienne and Juventus, he won the coveted Ballon d'Or (European footballer of the Year) three years consecutively -- in 1983, 1984 and 1985.

In 1984, he inspired France to the European Championship title on home soil, but after retiring, a four-year stint as coach of the France team failed to bear fruit.

In 1992 Platini resigned after France exited the European Championships at the first round.

Instead, it was in football's corridors of power that the curly-haired Frenchman would find his true path, moving slowly up the administrative ladder from a first administrative post at the French Football Federation.

Prior to France's hosting of the 1998 World Cup, Platini was taken under the wing of FFF president Fernand Sastre.

Together, they oversaw a successful campaign which led to France triumphing on home soil and bringing home a first international trophy since 1984.

A year later Platini declared his support for Sepp Blatter, becoming the FIFA chief's specialist adviser.

Platini was repaid in kind on Thursday, when the FIFA chief voiced his support for the Frenchman prior to Friday's vote.

Named vice-president of the FFF in 2001, Platini made a crucial career move in 2002 when he became an executive member of both UEFA and FIFA.

Johansson's bid for a fifth term hinged on the success of the game in Europe, and its flagship Champions League competition.

Platini felt it was time to focus more on the social, and less the financial issues in European football, and declared his intention to challenge Johansson in 2005.