The secrets of Didier Deschamps: from his Basque DNA to the plane crash that marked his life

The Spanish team will be looking for this Tuesday (9:00 p.m./La 1) at the Allianz Arena in Munich the final of the European Championship that is being played in Germany against another obstacle of the level that Kylian Mbappé’s France represents, a team of great strength that reaches these semi-finals without having shown the brilliance that is expected of it. Spain dreams of his fifth final in the continental tournament and becoming the most successful in history on July 14.

But the Blues will not make it easy. They have great players and a marshal on the bench, Didier Deschamps.

When it comes to international football, Didier Deschamps has seen it all. The former French midfielder has tasted glory as a player and coach of Les Bleus, winning two World Cups (1998 and 2018) and one European Championship (2000). However, he has also experienced the agony of defeats in the finals of Euro 2016 and the 2022 World Cup.

Now, approaching 12 years in charge of the national team, Deschamps is looking for more success in Germany: He aims to become the first man to win the European Championship as both a player and a coach.

However, beyond his achievements, There are details of his life that you may not know: shis connection with the Basque Country, the plane crash that marked his life, accusations of racism or why he speaks Spanish.

The secrets of Didier Deschamps

Born in the French Basque town of Bayonne in 1968, Little Didier lived through some difficult years in the late 1970s, when the terrorist group ETA carried out attacks in his hometown. His connection with the Basque Country is not known to everyone, but in Bayonne they boast of being a neighbour and even the name of the football stadium has been named after him since it was changed in 2000, after France won the European Championship. “I am proud of my origins, I am proud to be Basque. I lived there until I was 15 and I have all my family there. I like going to see a pelota match. It is important to perpetuate everything that is linked to traditions, festivals in the villages or Basque songs,” He confessed in an interview in South West.

Before trying his luck in football, Deschamps excelled in two of the most popular sports in that Basque-French territory: Basque pelota and rugby. In both sports he stood out for his desire to win, his professionalism and his nonconformity, qualities that have accompanied him throughout his career. After training at Biarritz and at the club in his hometown, his qualities as a fighting midfielder caught the attention of Nantes, who signed him when he was only 14 years old.

He settled in at the La Jonelière sports centre, where Nantes accommodated its young players. He was 14 years old and 400 kilometres from home. He felt alone and afraid, as the boys he shared a room with, most of whom were much older than him, did not hide their antipathy towards the young prodigy who had been fought over by several renowned clubs before the teenager’s family opted for the Breton club. For the first, but not the last time in his life, Deschamps had to fight off his attackers to prevail, and he did.

From there, His meteoric career would also come to an end in Spain. Deschamps He finished his football career in the Spanish League, playing the 2000-01 season at Valencia CF, although he did not succeed at the Spanish club, mainly due to adaptation problems and injuries. In the summer of 2001, he decided to hang up his boots, at just 32 years old, he began his career as a coach.

Maybe that’s why It is not unusual to see him speaking perfect Spanish in the mixed zone.

The plane crash that marked his life

It is not difficult to see him smiling on the bench but behind his smile there is a dramatic event that he prefers not to talk about. Christmas has not been a time for him since 1987On December 21 of that year, His brother Philippe flew on AF 1919 from Brussels to Bordeaux. The flight took off at 12:30, but never landed.Bad weather hampered the approach and the plane crashed. All 16 people on board died. Deschamps was 19 years old when this happened and the event would mark him forever.

Another of the moments More bitter were the accusations of racism after Karim Benzema was banned from the national team. After a dignified performance at the World Cup in Brazil, where they lost in the quarter-finals to Germany, Deschamps and his team were put to the test: the Euros, where Benzema and the new generation led by Griezmann, Pogba and Varane were to shine. But controversy muddied everything. Benzema’s accusation of being an accomplice in a dark case of blackmailing his teammate Valbuena with an alleged sex video led the coach, in a decision taken in agreement with the Federation, to exclude both players. The French legend Eric Cantona called Deschamps a racist, an accusation that was supported by the former Real Madrid striker himself.He has bowed to the pressure of a racist part of France, he said.

Something that the French coach never forgave: “I can not forget it. When it is something about my choices as a coach, the tactics or the technical aspect, it takes place and for me it is not important. The rest is going too far, it affects my name and my family.”

Deschamps married Claude Antoinette in 1989. Together they have a son, Dylan, who was born in 1996.

A Basque with a star

They say he was born with a star and his good luck is so popular in France that even Le Parisien used it in a politically-tinged cartoon in 2016. It showed an imaginary conversation between Hollande and his then prime minister, Manuel Valls: “This Deschamps is incredibly lucky! He inspires me!” Hollande says, to which Valls replies: “Do you still hope to make it to the second round (of the presidential elections) in 2017?”.

Today, Spain hopes to change its fortunes.