‘Monument of French football’ Just Fontaine dies aged 89
Just Fontaine, who holds the record for the most goals scored in a single World Cup tournament, has died aged 89.
Fontaine hit 13 goals at the 1958 finals in Sweden, where Les Bleus finished third.
His death was announced by Paris St Germain, who he managed between 1973 and 1976, leading them to promotion back to Ligue 1 in 1974.
RIP Just Fontaine.
A legend of French football who has sadly left us and a sad day for all at Paris Saint-Germain, a club he led to the first division 50 years ago. pic.twitter.com/HovqldRTir
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) March 1, 2023
PSG described Fontaine as a “monument of French football”.
Born in Morocco in 1933, he started out at USM Casablanca before joining Nice in 1953.
He moved on to Reims three years later and won three French league titles with the club between 1958 and 1962. He was also part of the Reims side which reached the 1959 European Cup final.
Fontaine scored a hat-trick against Paraguay in France’s opening group game at the 1958 World Cup finals, two against Yugoslavia and one against Scotland. He also grabbed two in France’s 4-0 quarter-final win over Northern Ireland and drew them level in their semi-final against Brazil.
However, the eventual winners from South America – inspired by a 17-year-old Pele who hit a second-half hat-trick – ran out 5-2 winners.
Fontaine smashed four past West Germany in the third-place play-off match, which France won 6-3.
His 13 goals place him joint fourth in the all-time men’s World Cup top scorer charts, alongside Argentina’s Lionel Messi who needed five finals to reach that total.
France 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,” Deschamps said.
“‘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.”