March 2 – Just Fontaine, the French football legend who in 1958 scored a record 13 goals in the World Cup finals in Sweden – a remarkable feat that has withstood 16 editions since and seems unlikely ever to be matched – has died, triggering an outpouring of tributes.
Fontaine, 89, netted 30 goals in 21 caps for France between 1953-1960, carrying Les Bleus to their first-ever World Cup semi-final in 1958.
To this day, only three players have scored more World Cup goals than the Moroccan-born Fontaine, but none have done it in one go.
A prolific striker with 259 goals from 283 matches in his club career, Fontaine was one of the key players of the great Stade de Reims team who reached the European Cup final in 1959 as well as winning three league titles.
“A star of French football, an outstanding striker, a legendary Reims player… To his family… Stade de Reims send their most sincere condolences,” Reims wrote on Twitter.
As a coach after he retired from playing, Fontaine helped Paris St Germain gain promotion to the first division in 1974.
Current French head coach Didier Deschamps commented: “I am saddened by the death of Just Fontaine, as I am sure all those who love football and our national team will be.
“As a player and then as a coach, I was lucky enough to meet him on several occasions. I was lucky enough to meet him on several occasions, notably at his home in Toulouse in September 2017. Justo was a very kind man, very respectful of the generations that succeeded him at Les Bleus.
After he retired, Fontaine co-founded France’s players’ union and served as chairman for a few years. He also briefly coached France’s national team before stints with Luchon, Paris Saint-Germain, Toulouse and the Moroccan national team.
“A French football icon has passed, and Paris Saint-Germain would like to pay tribute to the man who led them to the first division some 50 years ago,” PSG said in a statement, referring to Fontaine guiding the club to the top league after a playoff win in 1974.
The French Football Federation said tributes to Fontaine will take place across France this weekend with a “minute of homage.”
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