It is mourning in French and world football. Just Fontaine (Marrakech, 1933) died at the age of 89. Legend of the Blues and Stade de Reims (1956-62), with whom he won three Championships, a Cup, a Champions Trophy and was vice-champion of Europe in 1959, losing (2-0) the final against Real Madrid de Gento, Di Stefano, Kopa… the striker holds the record for goals in the World Cup.
In the 1958 Swedish edition, in which France reached third place, Fontaine scored 13 goals. He closed his national team career with 30 goals in 21 games. In his career between USM Casablanca, Nice and Reims, Fontaine celebrated 258 goals in 284 games.
A brilliant scorer, who founded the Union of French Footballers with Kopa, who in 2014 received an honorary Golden Shoe in Brazil. “I am very proud to receive this unique award. It’s good because I’m also unique. And the boys next to me handing it to me are unique,” confessed Fontaine, who received the award from Platini and Ronaldo Nazario. Rest in peace.
Almost 65 years have passed and the name of Just Fontaine continues to appear each time a World Cup is organised. Unsurprisingly, this is the oldest record in the history of the sport. The mythical French striker, born in Marrakech, made history in 1958 after scoring thirteen goals in six matches at the 1958 World Cup. To this day, the record of a former Nice or Stade Reims player remains intact, and that makes the legend of the recently deceased striker bigger every year.
The statistics remain there, unalterable over time, precious and unpublished, untouchable by all the great figures who have crossed the history of the World Cups. However, few know beyond the data, the heroic number. And it is that many circumstances came together to bring Fontaine to touch the sky with his hands in this World Cup event. France was the first to arrive in Swedish lands, among other things, because many thought they would also be the first to leave. This was not the case. Fontaine, at the time, did not enter the ideal eleven of Batteux, coach of the blues, yet arrived with an unbeatable letter of presentation: 34 goals with the Stade de Reims, top scorer in Ligue 1 and European Golden Shoe .
And that was the first factor to achieve the feat. Luck, or whatever you want to call it, allied itself with Fontaine, and the injury of starting forward Raymond Blair opened the doors to the property. From there to glory. What hardly anyone knew at the time was that the boots with which Fontaine drilled the rival goals were not his. At that time, each player had two pairs of shoes, and good old Fontaine arrived in Sweden with just enough equipment. Stéphane Bruey, teammate in the national team, had to lend them some. And Fontaine returned them, six games later and with thirteen more goals.
Three goals for Paraguay, two for Yugoslavia, one for Scotland, two for Northern Ireland, one for Brazil and four for the Federal Republic of Germany. Four that could have been five. Fontaine’s humility was such that the striker didn’t even think to ask his teammate Kopa to take a penalty in the fight for third and fourth places. “He was in charge of taking the penalty shootout, so that day was not to be any different,” Fontaine pointed out a few years later. Despite the feat, France comes up against the Brazil of Garrincha, Didi, Vavá and a very young Pelé who is taking his first steps. His partnership with Raymond Kopa was not enough. But the couple that the two formed would already go down in footballing history. “He was the striker that suited my game perfectly. I was sure I would find him on the off of a dribble,” said the tall winger. His career at national team level was almost perfect . From his debut, ‘hat-trick’ included, against Luxembourg until his last match where he closed his thirty goals in 21 games.