PARIS (AP) Michel Hidalgo, the coach who led France to the 1984 European Championship title and the 1982 World Cup semifinals, died on Thursday. He was 87.
The French Football Federation confirmed the death.
Hidalgo coached the national team from 1976-84 and led host France to its first major title at Euro 1984 with midfielder Michel Platini scoring nine goals.
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Les Bleus reached the World Cup semifinals two years earlier but lost to West Germany in a penalty shootout.
Soccer purists adored the way Hidalgo’s teams were almost fixated on creativity, even at the expense of defending. The midfield, led by Platini, was known as the “Magic Four” and was arguably the best in the world at the time. Alain Giresse, Jean Tigana and Bernard Genghini were the other three.
“I would like to express all my affection and my support to his wife Monique, to his family and all of those close to him,” Platini said in a statement. “As a coach, Michel lifted France to the summit of its art, with determination choosing the beautiful game and allowing each one of us to express all of our ability and individual talent.”
Hidalgo coached France in 75 games, behind only Raymond Domenech and current coach Didier Deschamps.
FFF president Noel Le Graet spoke of his “immense sadness and deep emotion” upon hearing of Hidalgo’s death.
“The federation, our football, are in grieving,” Le Graet said. “With his style of play, his personality and his exemplary passion, he contributed to our sport shining at international level and its popularity in France.”
During his playing days from 1952-66, Hidalgo was an attacking midfielder who scored regularly for Le Havre, Reims and Monaco.
He won French titles and French Cups as a player, and scored in the European Cup final when Reims lost to Real Madrid 4-3 in 1956. He put his club ahead 3-2 after the Spanish team rallied from a 2-0 deficit.