Platini was the player of his generation, leading France to two World Cup semifinals. David Cannon/Allsport
Although he has never won the World Cup, Michel Platini is widely regarded as the greatest French player of all time. Deadly in front of goal, his technical brilliance and outstanding ability to read the game rightly place him alongside the likes of Pele and Cruyff as one of soccer's all-time greats.
The grandson of an Italian immigrant, Platini was born in Joeuf in 1955 and made his full international debut against Czechoslovakia in 1976. His World Cup career began at age 23 in 1978, when even though France fell at the first hurdle, Platini netted his first ever World Cup goal against future champion Argentina.
As French captain, Platini led his country to the World Cup semifinals in both 1982 and 1986. Despite France's agonizing defeat on penalties to Germany in 1982, Platini was voted man of the match. In 1986 he skippered France to victory in the third place playoff against Belgium, bouncing back from a missed penalty in the quarterfinal clash against Brazil.
Undoubtedly the player of his generation, the great No. 10 retired at the end of the 1986-87 season after 72 caps and 41 goals. After France failed to qualify for the 1990 World Cup, Platini was recalled to international duty as national team coach, and guided France to the European Championships in Sweden in 1992.