When David Trezeguet scored the golden goal against Italy in the final to win the Euro 2000 for France, Antoine Griezmann was only nine years old and playing for hometown club UF Mâcon.
16 years have passed since that victory and that nine-year-old is now carrying his country’s hopes of winning their first international trophy since that magical night in 2000.
Antoine Griezmann has undoubtedly been the breakout star of this year’s European Championship and the ‘baby faced assassin’ has become a national hero after his two goals against Germany in the semi-finals. The forward is currently sitting atop the goal-scoring list with 6 goals to his name and the entire nation will look to him to guide France to victory when they face Portugal in Sunday’s grand finale.
However, the fame and success did not come easy for the French superstar.
Griezmann wanted to follow the footsteps of his grandfather Amaro Lopes, who played for the French first division club Paços de Ferreira, and he started to try out for several of France’s top teams like Lyon, Auxerre, AS Saint-Etienne from an early age.
But, he was rejected by all of those clubs because they thought he was ‘too little’ for football. In 2005, while on trial with Montpellier, Griezmann played in a friendly match against the youth academy of Paris Saint-Germain and that proved to be the turning point of his life. The youngster was spotted by Real Sociedad’s French scout Eric Olhats and soon enough, he signed a youth contract with the La Liga side.
Under the guidance of the Real Sociedad coaches, Greizmann became a rising star in Spanish football and he made his competitive debut for the club in 2009 at the age of 18. Over the next five seasons, Griezmann played a major role for the club with 52 goals in 201 games and he also represented France at various youth levels. Diego Simeone was extremely impressed by the French forward’s performances and in June 2014, Griezmann joined Atletico Madrid for an impressive £24million.
The last two seasons have seen a lot of change in Griezmann’s style of play as Simeone decided to transform him from a wide player to a centre forward. The result can be seen in his impressive goal tally as he finished the 2014-15 season with 32 goals to his name.
Sadly, he missed a penalty in Atletico’s heartbreaking Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid, but there was no denying the fact that the French international was clearly one of the best La Liga players of the season.
But, that is all in the past now.
Griezmann has been the main man for France in their road to the Euro 2016 final and when they face Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, every French supporter will be looking at the boy from Burgundy to end Les Bleus’ 16-year-long drought for a major international trophy.