France are once again generating many headlines on the world stage, with Didier Deschamps’ men through to the semi-finals of the 2022 World Cup.
The defending champions are seeking their third world title, having lifted the famous trophy in 1998 on home soil, and in 2018 in Russia. They edged past England in the quarter-finals to set up an intriguing last-four meeting with African side Morocco.
It is perhaps unsurprising that Les Bleus have gotten this far, given just how many top talents they possess. While many of those talents are young stars, three of them are fully-fledged internationals and are now among their nation’s top 10 appearance-makers of all time.
France’s top 10 most-capped players of all time
10 Karim Benzema, Laurent Blanc, Bixente Lizarazu – 97 caps
The trio of Karim Benzema, Laurent Blanc and Bixente Lizarazu are all tied on 97 caps for France. Both former defenders Blanc and Lizarazu helped their country lift the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000.
But current striker Benzema looks set to pull away from the pack in the years to come. He would have undoubtedly hit the 100-cap mark in Qatar, but a last-minute injury ruled him out of the current World Cup. Can the 2020/21 Nations League winner add more titles to his collection in the near future?
9 Didier Deschamps – 103
Current boss Didier Deschamps has not only won the respect of his compatriots with his honours as a manager, but he also represented his nation on the pitch, making 103 caps for his country between 1989 and 2000.
The defensive midfielder netted just four goals in that time, but his efforts on the pitch were of course much more important than just finding the back of the net. Like Blanc and Lizarazu, Deschamps lifted the World Cup and European Championship trophies in 1998 and 2000, adding the World Cup and Nations League to his honours list in his current role as France manager.
8 Patrick Vieira – 107
Another hugely talented former midfielder, Patrick Vieira made 107 appearances for Les Bleus between 1997 and 2009. He was just a youngster when France won those aforementioned titles, but he was still very much an important part of both squads, going on to become a legend for his nation.
Along with the team honours, Vieira picked up many individual awards for his country, including being named French Player of the Year in 2001, as well as earning a spot in the Euro 2000 Team of the Tournament and the 2006 World Cup All-Star Team.
7 Zinedine Zidane – 108
Yet another incredible midfielder from largely the same generation as the likes of Deschamps and Vieira, Zinedine Zidane wowed audiences with his stunning skill, dazzling dribbles and phenomenal dead-ball ability. He picked up 108 caps for France across a 12-year period.
From that time between 1994 and 2006, Zidane netted 31 goals, with his honours list also including the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. His efforts on the pitch fortunately mean he will not be remembered solely for his crazy antics in the 2006 World Cup final, a tournament in which he was named in the All-Star Team, having been named in the same team eight years prior.
6 Antoine Griezmann – 115
As mentioned, there are three heroes of the current France squad that are now in the top 10 list for most appearances for their country, and one of those is attacker Antoine Griezmann. The Atletico Madrid icon is perhaps the player most associated with Deschamps’ reign, with the boss invariably turning to his attacker when he needs a creative spark.
Griezmann has been part of the international setup since 2014, and remains a key player for France as they seek back-to-back World Cup titles. He has 42 goals for his nation, behind only current teammate Olivier Giroud (53) and the legendary Thierry Henry (51).
5 Marcel Desailly – 116
At the other end of the pitch and with just two French goals scored, rock-solid defender turned defensive midfielder Marcel Desailly is another member of the 100+ club. He made 116 appearances for Les Bleus between 1993 and 2004.
Throughout that 11-year period, the defender was another member of the hugely iconic squad that lifted back-to-back major European trophies in the form of the 1998 World Cup and Euro 200. The legendary figure featured in the 1998 World Cup All-Star Team and in the Team of the Tournament for both Euro 1996 and Euro 2000.
4 Olivier Giroud – 118
Another current legendary figure, Olivier Giroud has been hitting the headlines for his displays in Qatar for more reasons than one. The striker has not only played a key role in helping his side reach the semi-finals of the tournament, but he also secured his own personal agenda in the competition.
With 53 goals, the former Arsenal and Chelsea forward is now France’s all-time top goalscorer. He has smashed those 53 goals in 118 games, with both tallies set to rise as France aim to continue their success on the big stage.
3 Thierry Henry – 123
Arsenal icon Thierry Henry fired in 51 goals in his 123 games for France, which came across a 13-year spell between 1997 and 2010. He is yet another French player to have helped lift the trophies at the World Cup in 1998 and the Euros in 2000.
Henry’s efforts helped him secure several individual honours, with his trickery and ability to score goals from nothing terrorising some of the best defenders the game has ever seen. The striker was named in the Euro 2000 Team of the Tournament and the 2006 World Cup All-Star Team.
2 Lilian Thuram – 142
Back into defence and back into the heroes of old, Lilian Thuram sits second on the all-time appearance list with 142. The iconic defender played for his country from 1994 to 2008, playing a key role in the aforementioned title wins in 1998 and 2000.
The 1997 French Player of the Year also received countless individual plaudits for his performances in major tournaments, and was named in the Euro 2000 Team of the Tournament and in FIFA’s World Cup All-Star Team in both 1998 and 2006, with his French side losing the final in the latter tournament.
1 Hugo Lloris – 143
But just edging past Thuram is Hugo Lloris, the current goalkeeper and captain of the French team. He began his international career back in 2008, and at 35 is still going strong for his country. The shot-stopper now has 143 France caps and counting.
It remains to be seen what lies in waiting for Lloris after the current World Cup, but for now he is one of the most important players in this exciting side filled with young talent. His wisdom and experience, along with his lightning-quick reflexes and decision-making, are just some of the reasons why Deschamps relies on him between the sticks.
- 1 France’s top 10 most-capped players of all time
- 2 10 Karim Benzema, Laurent Blanc, Bixente Lizarazu – 97 caps
- 3 9 Didier Deschamps – 103
- 4 8 Patrick Vieira – 107
- 5 7 Zinedine Zidane – 108
- 6 6 Antoine Griezmann – 115
- 7 5 Marcel Desailly – 116
- 8 4 Olivier Giroud – 118
- 9 3 Thierry Henry – 123
- 10 2 Lilian Thuram – 142
- 11 1 Hugo Lloris – 143