Just Fontaine, pictured at a function at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, was called a “monument of French football,” by current head coach Didier Deschamps. (Michael Lewis/FrontRowSoccer.com)
Former French international forward Just Fontaine, who set the record for the most goals scored a in a World Cup, has died.
He was 89.
Fontaine tallied 13 goals at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, which placed him in fourth place on the competition’s all-time scoring list (tied with Argentina’s Lionel Messi).
His death was announced by Paris St Germain, whom he managed from 1973-76, leading the club to promotion to French Ligue 1 in 1974.
PSG called Fontaine a “monument of French football.”
French head coach Didier Deschamps paid tribute to Fontaine in a statement released by the country’s football federation.
“The death of Just Fontaine saddens me, as it will inevitably sadden all those who love football and our national team,” French head coach Didier Deschamps said in a stateement, “Justo is, and will remain, a legend of the team. The striker who, by scoring 13 goals during a final phase of the World Cup, set a record still unequalled.
“Justo was a man of great kindness, very respectful of the generations who succeeded him with Les Bleus. His attachment to the France team was strong and sincere. I extend my thoughts to his family, his loved ones and all our great elders today in pain.”
Fontaine, born in Morocco in 1933, began his career at USM Casablanca before signing with Nice in 1953.
He joined Reims three years later, helping the team win three French league titles from 1958-62. He also was a member of the squad that reached the 1959 European Cup final.
Just Fontaine talks to the media at the 1990 World Cup. (Michael Lewis/FrontRowSoccer.com)
To the rest of the world, Fontaine’s greatest moments came at Sweden ’58, when he scored 13 goals.
He secured a hat-trick against Paraguay in Les Bleus’ opening group game. He added two against Yugoslavia and one vs. Scotland.
Fontaine was far from finished, bagging a brace in a 4-0 quarterfinal victory past Northern Ireland and added another tally that drew the French even with Brazil in the semifinals. The Brazilians, however, went on to win that encounter, as a 17-year-old Pele registered a second-half hat-trick in the second half.
Fontaine saved his best for last, connecting four times in a 6-3 triumph over Germany in the third-place match.