French football legend Just Fontaine dies at the age of 89

French football legend Just Fontaine – who scored a record 13 goals at the 1958 World Cup – dies at the age of 89

  • French football legend Just Fontaine has passed away at the age of 89
  • He was a prolific striker who scored a record 13 goals at the 1958 World Cup 
  • However, Fontaine was forced to retire from football aged 28 due to injuries

French football legend Just Fontaine has passed away at the age of 89.

Fontaine – who was born in Morocco but represented France internationally – is best known for scoring the most goals in a single World Cup after he netted 13 times in just six matches in the 1958 tournament in Sweden.

After making his name with USM Casablanca, he went on to enjoy prolific spells with Nice – where he scored 42 goals in 69 appearances for the club – and Reims, netting 122 times in 131 games.

Most impressively, Fontaine also scored 30 times in just 21 games for Les Bleus.

Unfortunately his career was cut short by injuries, with Fontaine ending his playing career at the age of 28.

Fraench football legend Just Fontaine tragically passed away at the age of 89 on Wednesday

 Fontaine was best known for scoring a record 13 goals in just six games at the 1958 World Cup

However, this didn’t stop the French legend leaving his mark on the game as he enjoyed managerial stints in charge of France, Luchon, PSG, Toulouse and Morocco. 

Back in 2004, he was named by another former great Pele as one of the 125 greatest living footballers, while he was also selected as France’s best player of the last 50 years by the French Football Federation in 2003 at the UEFA Jubilee Awards.

Fontaine had a superb international pedigree and after scoring a hat-trick on his debut, he went on to net 30 times in just 21 games. 

His exploits at the 1958 World Cup – where France eventually lost in the semi-finals to Brazil – sees Fontaine in fourth place in the list of all-time goalscorers at the World Cup.

Behind Miroslav Klose, the Brazilian Ronaldo and Gerd Muller, Fontaine is level with Lionel Messi, despite the Argentine playing 20 more matches at the world’s showpiece event.

At the 2014 World Cup, he was awarded a Golden Boot for his record at the 1958 World Cup.

Upon receiving the award on stage from Ronaldo and the disgraced former UEFA president Michel Platini, Fontaine said: ‘ I am very proud to receive this shoe, unique, it’s good because I too am unique, and the guys next to me who give me the price, are unique.’

At that tournament, France beat defending champions West Germany 6-3 in the third place play-off, with Fontaine netting four times in an all-time World Cup classic.

The final goalscorer standings in that tournament saw him score seven times more than second placed Pele.

Fontaine’s career was tragically cut short by injury but he was a prolific striker when he played

Fontaine (C) is held aloft by team-mates after scoring four goals in the third-place play off against defending champions West Germany in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden

Ironically, Fontaine almost missed out on the tournament, but injuries to Thadee Cisowski and Rene Bliard saw him make the squad and then the starting line-up.

‘It was only at the airport before leaving for Sweden that Paul Nicolas (part of the national team staff) and Albert Batteux (the France coach), who didn’t really want me, told me I would be playing as centre-forward,’ Fontaine told AFP in 2013.

In his subsequent managerial career, the high watermark saw Fontaine guide Morocco to third place in the 1980 African Cup of Nations.

His legacy wasn’t limited to the on-pitch success and in 1961, along with Eugene N’Jo Lea – he founded the National Union of Professional Football Players in France – the French equivalent to the Professional Footballers’ Association.

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