France mourns Henri Michel

Former France midfielder and coach Henri Michel, who guided Les Bleus to third place at the 1986 FIFA World Cup, has passed away aged 70.

Henri Michel (right) with France at the the 1986 World Cup finals
Henri Michel (right) with France at the the 1986 World Cup finals ©Getty Images

Former France player and coach Henri Michel – who led his country to third place at the 1986 FIFA World Cup – has died at the age of 70.

Michel's passing comes after his recent induction into the hall of fame at Nantes – the club where he played from 1966–82 – yet his most celebrated achievement was at the Mexico '86 World Cup. His France team beat Brazil on penalties in a famous Guadalajara quarter-final, and though Germany denied them in the semis, Les Bleus recovered to pip Belgium to bronze.

That success followed his gold medal as France coach at the 1984 Olympic Games, which had made him the natural successor to Michel Hidalgo in the wake of France's EURO triumph that summer. The Aix-en-Provence native would coach the national team from 1984–88, overseeing 36 games in all.

A top midfielder during his playing career, he earned 58 caps for Les Bleus between 1967 and 1980, scoring four goals, and with the great Nantes side of that era, he won French championships in 1973, 1977 and 1980, also lifting the French Cup in 1979.

In total he appeared in 640 matches for Nantes, who last Friday named him in their hall of fame.

"With huge sadness, the French Football Federation learned this morning the news of Henri Michel's death," said FFF president Noël Le Graët. "Henri Michel had a remarkable career as a player and coach."

Besides Nantes and France, Michel coached Paris Saint-Germain, Aris Thessaloniki as well as clubs in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. He also managed six other national teams, steering Ivory Coast to the runners-up spot at the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations. Kenya, in 2012, was his last managerial assignment.