Just a Fontaine of talent & exuberance
Just Fontaine's tally of 13 goals in six matches in the 1958 World Cup remains a record at a single World Cup.sports Updated: May 29, 2010 00:12 IST
Just Fontaine's tally of 13 goals in six matches in the 1958 World Cup remains a record at a single World Cup.
Born in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh in 1933, Fontaine moved to France in the early 1950s. He enjoyed three seasons with Nice from 1953, scoring 45 goals and helping the club triumph in the French Cup and League.
A move to Stade Reims followed for the 1956-57 season. Fontaine replaced Raymond Kopa, who was transferred to Real Madrid.
In a fruitful partnership with France international Rene Bliard, Fontaine notched up more than 60 goals in two seasons, helping the club clinch the league and Cup double in 1958.
Yet, Fontaine was under no illusions about his place in the national team, third in the queue behind Bliard and Kopa. "I'm centre-forward until Kopa arrives," Fontaine said as France settled in Sweden ahead of Kopa's departure from Madrid. Fate then intervened in the shape of an injury to Bliard.
Fontaine, a clinical finisher, was to provide the perfect foil to the more famous Kopa. The duo struck a telepathic understanding from the first match, Kopa helping Fontaine to a hat-trick as Paraguay were overwhelmed 7-3. Fontaine took his total to five in next game, scoring both goals in a surprising 2-3 defeat against Yugoslavia.
A sixth goal was to follow in a 2-1 win over Scotland, which saw the French into the quarterfinals against Northern Ireland. Fontaine helped himself to two more in a 4-0 victory against the Irish.
Fontaine was at it again in the 2-5 defeat against eventual winners Brazil in the semi-finals. He banged in four more against West Germany in a 6-3 victory for the third place.
The 1958 World Cup should have been the start of a long international career, yet it proved to be Fontaine's only time on the world stage.
First Published: May 29, 2010 00:10 IST