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World Cup win gives France new set of heroes, needed boost

17 July 2018

French media spent the day lauding the team's accomplishments.

I had the vast privilege and happiness to experience that as a player 20 years ago, and it was in France as well so it will remain with me forever. "We mix. There is no religion, there is nothing, and that's what feels good".

Tens of thousands of people wearing national red-and-white colours and waving Croatian flags poured into the streets in of the capital Zagreb to greet the players.

The Etoiles station is for now "On a 2 Etoiles" (We have 2 stars), to denote France's second World Cup victory, after one in 1998, while the Victor Hugo station is now Victor Hugo Lloris, after France's standout goalkeeper and captain.

History Made declared sports daily L'Equipe.

The full array of stars were on show as the players waited to board their team plane, with the likes of Paul Pogba, Benjamin Mendy and Antoine Griezmann all in high spirits. The president clearly hoped the World Cup glow would rub off on him, raising him up in the eyes of a nation where his economic reforms have drawn fierce protests and labor strikes.

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France has suffered years of tension and self-examination since a series of attacks by Islamist gunmen during 2015 that left more than 140 dead, including 89 killed in the Bataclan theatre in Paris. In some small way, the World Cup has helped lift the nation as it remains wary of the threat.

"Thank you Croatia, thank you Zagreb!" captain Luka Modric, who won the Golden Ball after being voted the best player of the World Cup, told the crowd after the team finally arrived at the central square in the evening.

But some were keen to put that phrase to one side, seeing in it a sense of separateness, even if it was meant positively. We have had the same success, but they were two great players. The 2015 World Cup Champions will host their federation qualifiers in October, a tournament where they'll look to launch their bid for a fourth World Cup championship.

Several Paris Metro stations were temporarily adjusting their names to honor the team and its members, the transport authority tweeted. "I believed in them but then you need to see what happens, because it only took us through to the quarter-finals", said Deschamps, whose team beat Uruguay 2-0 in the last eight and then edged out Belgium 1-0 in the semi-finals.

On Monday morning, the after-effects of Sunday night's frenetic revelry were still visible. There were many broken windows, an overturned vehicle and drawings on walls that included the phrase "Liberte, Egalite, Mbappe".

The boom of fireworks and firecrackers filled the air and auto drivers honked their horns incessantly to celebrate France's second world title after their triumph on home soil in 1998.

World Cup win gives France new set of heroes, needed boost