Didier Deschamps thanked fans after France landed back in Paris following their “cruel” World Cup final defeat to Argentina on Sunday.
Les Bleus were looking to become the first team to retain the World Cup since Brazil in 1962, but they were beaten 4-2 on penalties by Argentina after an enthralling 3-3 draw.
Kylian Mbappe’s hat-trick helped France recover from 2-0 and then 3-2 down, but Aurelien Tchoumeni and Kingsley Coman failed to convert in the shoot-out as Deschamps’ men fell to a heartbreaking defeat.
Nevertheless, the team were greeted by a mass crowd as they returned to Paris on Monday, and Deschamps expressed his appreciation for the support after such a crushing loss.
“It is our duty with the players to thank all these French men and women who supported us and gave a lot of strength to this France group,” he told TF1. “We shared fabulous emotions even if the ending is cruel and hurts.
“We must not forget all that this group did while having a lot of difficulties before and during the World Cup. They experienced fabulous emotions during this month of competition.”
Votre accueil fait chaud au cœur
— Equipe de France (@equipedefrance)
Captain Hugo Lloris echoed his head coach’s sentiments after missing out on becoming the first man to skipper his team to two World Cup trophies.
“After the pain of yesterday, [the reception is] a little comfort,” Lloris said. “The most important thing is the recognition of the supporters, even if as an athlete we would have liked to have this gold medal and bring the cup back to France.”
France now turn their attentions to the 2024 European Championship in Germany, where they will be looking to win the tournament for a third time.
Lloris compelled his team to carry their strong mentality from Qatar into their next competition, adding: “Despite what happened before and during the tournament, we showed resilience, we remained a group. We have to keep that going for the Euros.”
Striker Olivier Giroud, who surpassed Thierry Henry as France’s all-time record goalscorer in Qatar, added: “We’re going to give each other a big hug and go on vacation to recharge our batteries, because there is a season to finish.
“It is always difficult to leave a group with which we spent a month and a half. We are like a family, like brothers.”