French drought ends at U-20 World Cup level

[HISTORY] France is world famous for its development programs at the club and national team level, but Saturday's title ended a long drought at the Under-20 World Cup level. Its participation at the 2013 finals in Turkey was just the Bleuets' fifth appearance at the Under-20 World Cup.

France played in the inaugural FIFA youth world championship in 1977 but went 20 years before returning to the finals.

France's 1997 Under-20 World Cup team was one of the greatest youth teams ever assembled but it lost on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals to Uruguay -- the team it beat in shootout on Saturday.

The 1997 team included New York Red Bulls star Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet, who would play on France's World Cup championship team a year later, Nicolas Anelka, who played with Henry and Trezeguet on France's Euro 2000 championship team, as well as William Gallas and Willy Sagnol, who played with Henry and Trezeguet in the 2006 World Cup final France lost to Italy on penalty kicks.

Mickael Landreau, Philippe Christanval, Daniel Moreira and Mikael Silvestre all went on earned caps, giving France nine U-20 players who went on to play at the senior international level.

France reached the 2001 Under-20 World Cup quarterfinals with a team that included Philippe Mexes and Djibril Cisse but waited another decade before qualifying for the Under-20 World Cup finals again. Lyon's Clement Grenier has already graduated to the senior national after helping the French U-20s finish fourth two years ago.

Players from France's 2001 Under-17 World Cup championship team didn't go on to have the same success. Not one player went on to play for France at the senior level.
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