Michel Hidalgo, the French national football manager who oversaw the first real success for his country, has died aged 87. Until Hidalgo took over in 1976 Les Bleus were seen as a second or even third tier outfit on the world stage in a country where rugby was the biggest team sport by far. However, in 1982 they made an unexpected run to the World Cup semi-finals, losing to West Germany. Hidalgo pushed on from this success and in 1984 the French team won Euro 1984 by beating Spain 2-0, their first major international trophy.
To the surprise of many, he retired straight afterwards, although he had laid the groundwork for a French side who would go on to consistently be one of the top sides in modern football. Hidalgo’s coaching skills are not in doubt, although he was also blessed with a team chock-full of mercurial players. These included Patrick Battiston, Jean Tigana, Didier Six and, most notably, Michel Platini, arguably one of the greatest players to ever grace the pitch. Hidalgo’s family said he had been ill for a long time and eventually passed away from “exhaustion and old age”.