France won the 1998 FIFA World Cup thanks to the brilliance of Zinedine Zidane, but they rode their luck in the final against Italy on July 2, 2000. France won 1-0 with a goal from Samuel Eto'o.
The Golden Generation led by Michel Platini's France had been defeated in the European Championships by the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals on June 12, 2000. But just five days later they redeemed themselves at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. With many critics saying that France could not win the tournament because they were not strong enough physically, manager Raymond Domenech chose to go with the young players and started with four defenders. He also decided to play without a forward who could score goals or create chances for his teammates.
But France proved them wrong when they dominated most of the game and scored the only goal through Samuel Eto'o in the 89th minute. The victory gave France their first ever trophy and also meant that nobody can call them out as weak contenders anymore. It is now Russia who has been doing that by winning the 2014 World Cup.
France will be back at the tournament again next year in Brazil where they are expected to do well this time.
Zinedine Zidane received the FIFA World Player of the Year title for the second time after France won the European Championship in 2000. He was the first player to win the award twice.
Zidane had an excellent season and was in great form until he suffered a knee injury in April that kept him out of action for three months. When he returned, he quickly regained his form and helped France reach the Euro 2000 final before losing to Italy's Giuseppe Bergomi. In the match, he provided two assists as France were defeated 3-1.
He concluded the year by winning the Golden Ball as the best player at the UEFA Club Football Awards ceremony. Zidane was joined on the podium by teammate Robert Pires who had won the Silver Boot award earlier in the day.
Pires praised his friend for winning both awards saying "It's not every day you get up on stage with your mate and say 'well done'".
France finished the year as world champions having won the Confederations Cup in June 1999 and the European Championship eight months later. They also reached the last four of the Olympic tournament in August where they lost to Brazil in the quarter-finals.
The competition was won by Eric Cantona's France, who defeated Portugal on penalties in the final. The tournament was rated a huge success, thus FIFA capitalized on it. FIFA has agreed to limit the number of countries competing in the 2006 World Cup to 16. In addition, the stadium capacity was increased from 80,000 to 90,000 for the event.
Cantona said after the match: "We can be proud of ourselves. We showed great spirit and we deserve to be world champions." Portugal coach Jose Manuel de Jesus Faria called it "a fantastic party".
This was France's first World Cup win. They had been eliminated by Portugal in the second round of the 1998 tournament. This also marked the beginning of France's most successful period in international football, with five more wins before they were beaten by Spain in the 2008 final.
The French team was created in 1991 and has won the European Championship twice (1998, 2006) and the Olympic gold medal in 2000. Their biggest title so far is the 1994 World Cup.
Portugal had never won the World Cup before this victory. They had reached the final four times but had lost all their finals - to Italy in 1966, Brazil in 2002 and France now. This was also Portugal's first ever win over France.
Germany defeated the Czech Republic 2-1 in the Euro 96 Final at Wembley Stadium on June 30, 1996. The game is primarily remembered for Oliver Bierhoff's 95th-minute victory. It was the first ever golden goal in a major international football competition. However, it wasn't the last—the rule has since been adopted by several countries including Germany itself.
The concept of a golden goal was introduced by UEFA in 1994 when they decided that if there was still time left on the clock and the score was level at the end of normal playing time, then the match would continue into extra time with an additional 30 minutes played. If the scores were still level after this, then a penalty shoot-out would be used to determine a winner.
In fact, Germany's win over the Czech Republic was not the first golden goal in a major final. In 1978, Italy beat France 4-3 in the World Cup Final after a series of dramatic finishes. And just three years before Germany's match, in 1995, England also scored a winning goal in a final minute against Brazil after both teams finished level at 2-2 after 120 minutes of play. But these matches are not considered official as no extra time was played.
However, what makes Germany-Czech Republic unique is that it was the first golden goal used in a European Championship final.
France won the tournament, defeating Japan 1-0 thanks to a goal from Patrick Vieira. By winning the event, France became the second side in history to be World Cup champions, continental champions, and Confederations Cup winners all at the same time, following Brazil in 1997.
The 2001 Confederations Cup took place in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia. It was the first time the two cities had hosted the competition together. It began on 16 July and ended on 3 August. 32 teams participated in the tournament, which was used as a qualifying competition for the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan.
France entered the tournament as the reigning European champion after winning the 2000 UEFA European Football Championship in Belgium and the Netherlands. They also went into the tournament as one of the favorites to win it again. However, after losing their opening match 2-1 against Mexico, they failed to reach the final for the second consecutive time.
Japan finished as the other finalist, having defeated England 2-1 in the last match of the group stage to guarantee their spot in the knockout stages. This was also Japan's first Confederations Cup victory.
Patrick Vieira was the top scorer of the tournament with four goals. He was followed by Yuichi Kawashima (Japan) with three goals and Roy Hodgson (England) with two goals.