It had been 20 years. Twenty years and three days, to be precise. Twenty years since French streets filled and the Champs-Elysees transformed into a resplendent sea of humanity, the only apt comparison the liberation of Paris. On Sunday, when Kylian Mbappe struck to put the result of the World Cup final beyond all reasonable doubt, the sequel began.
Twenty years and three days after the most glorious day in French soccer history, the second-most glorious arrived. France won its second World Cup title in style, beating Croatia 4-2.
A tight and tense first half gave way to an explosive second, France’s flamboyant stars running riot. Paul Pogba, oft-derided and underrated, turned on the style and capped a Golden Ball-worthy tournament with a back-to-front beauty. Mbappe, the World Cup’s breakout star, ended Croatia’s improbable run once and for all.
France’s young, World Cup-winning football team have staged a victorious home-coming parade in an open-top bus down the Champs Élysées as hundreds of thousands of supporters wrapped in flags cheered them on.
The 4-2 win over Croatia in Moscow on Sunday has cemented France’s reemergence as a football superpower and brought the country together.
The squad were driven down the packed avenue in Paris, smiling and waving and holding up the cup as the French air force staged a flypast amid plumes of red, white and blue.
Didier Deschamps walked into the interview room in the bowels of Luzhniki Stadium and prepared to answer questions for the first time as coach of a World Cup champion.
A noise to his right caused him to turn, and his players rushed in.
A bare-chested Benjamin Mendy jumped onto the table in front of Deschamps, and Florian Thauvin leaped up, too. Olivier Giroud and probably a dozen more giddy buddies sprayed their boss with bubbly, beer, cola and water, singing "On est champions [We are champions]!''
"They had to get that star, that shining star,'' Deschamps said, referring to the symbol that goes above a national team's crest to indicate a World Cup won. "I'm proud for them, and I'm also proud of myself – with all the humility, of course.'
Harry Kane thanked his England teammates after emulating Gary Lineker by winning the Golden Boot award at the World Cup.
Six goals were enough for Kane to claim the award by a convincing two-goal margin ahead of France pair Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo, Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku and Denis Cheryshev of Russia.
"Very proud to have won the World Cup golden boot. Not possible without my teammates and all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes," Kane wrote on Twitter.