Before Michel Platini became the hard-nosed president of UEFA, he graced Calcio with arguably the most beautiful football to have been played at the time. He was a visionary and one of the greatest talents to have ever been produced in France. Despite only spending five seasons at Juventus, he created and continued such an indelible mark of success at the club as a traditional attacking midfielder, a creative presence who was almost unstoppable.
His passing prowess and phenomenal goal-scoring ability led to great domestic and international success. As well as being named World Player of the Year, he was also European Player of the Year three times, a feat only replicated by Zinedine Zidane.
Before joining Juventus, Platini was a French league star playing for Nancy and then his boyhood team of St. Etienne. It was his performances for Les Bleus, which marked him out as one of the great world talents. On his back alone France managed to progress to the 1982 World Cup semi-finals, only to lose on penalties to West Germany. This was the summer that he would join Juventus for the chance to prove himself on a bigger stage and the chance to add to his trophy cabinet had arrived.
Platini struggled to make an immediate impact and even considered leaving the club after failing to settle in Turin. The media would hound him and the fans expected more, the pressure became intense. A change in tactics midway through the season at the start of 1983 saw a new role and a great development of the team. Before, he was asked to play a more deep laying role, which didn’t suit his visionary style. The change saw Platini playing higher up the pitch, here he showed his elegance and style through becoming the focal point in attack. It was that season’s run to the European Cup final, which established Platini as the driving force in the near success Juve would have.
Juventus circa 1982-1987
In this attacking midfield role, Platini was given more freedom and was the new architect of a true creative playmaker. Zidane, Ricky Kaka and Wesley Sneijder all come from the mould established by the Frenchman. Receiving possession, he could run at high speed with the ball seemingly glued to his feet making him almost impossible to defend against. By hanging off, you would give him too much time and he would find one of his forwards in space. By pressing too tight, a deft touch would see him glide past or draw the foul from you. He also made considerable impact from set-piece situations. The technology in the 1980s was not conducive to producing the most circular and aerodynamic balls. The ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ effect was in essence a derivation from Platini’s unerring ability to find the top corner with free-kicks. He would practice endlessly in training, a work ethic that would lead to his tremendous achievements, on and off the field.
Michel Platini helped to revolutionise the way football was played. With a languid and fluid style of play, he established himself as the star of the 1980s with Juve and Calcio as a whole lucky to have witnessed the star in his pomp.
Name – Michel Platini
Age – 55 (21/06/1955)
Position – Attacking Midfielder
Clubs (Appearances/Goals)– Nancy (213/127) St Etienne (145/82) Juventus (222/103)
Club level honours – Ligue 2, 1975. Coupe de France, 1978. Ligue 1, 1981. Coppa Italia, 1983. European Cup Winners Cup, 1984. UEFA Super Cup, 1984. Serie A, 1984,1986. European Cup, 1985. Intercontinental Cup, 1985
Nationality – French
Caps/goals – 72/41
National honours – European Championship 1984
Lessons in Calcio