When teenager Kylian Mbappe crashed a shot home to give France a 4-1 lead with 25 minutes left in the World Cup final yesterday, it not only confirmed the game’s new superstar, but ensured the World Cup is returning to Paris after 20 years.
The heartache of losing the European finals on home soil forgotten, social and economic pressures all took the back seat as the country erupted in joy Sunday night.
Proud Frenchmen streamed into the streets, honking car horns and flying the tricolore flag at the start of an enormous national celebration across the cities, and in particular, Paris, where crowds had packed the Champs Elysees in a repeat of the scenes of 20 years ago when more than one million people partied there into the early hours.
“We won, we won!” rang out at the end of the match in the giant fanzone erected near the Eiffel Tower in Paris where almost 100 000 people packed out a park to watch the game on giant screens.
Amid the dancing, drinking and singing of the national anthem, some fans paused to savour a moment of unbridled joy and national unity after a difficult period for the nation.
And so did President Emmanuel Macron, a keen football supporter who was in the stadium in Moscow and is already basking in the afterglow of the victorious campaign in Russia.
“MERCI,” he wrote in a one-word tweet.
.@equipedefrance : MERCI
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) July 15, 2018
— Quincy Roberts (@quincysings) July 15, 2018
To appear in 3 #WorldCup finals in 20 years is massive. To win two of those is not without a strategic football development plan. Congratulations France .
— JJ. Omojuwa (@Omojuwa) July 15, 2018
You play with the legends now pic.twitter.com/jvOmenzoam
— B/R Football (@brfootball) July 15, 2018
— Katrina Kaif (@Katrinakaif_8) July 15, 2018
Do you think you can make it two World Cups in one year? #OWWC
We’ll find out soon! pic.twitter.com/GlSbJp1uDM
— Overwatch Path to Pro (@owpathtopro) July 15, 2018
Congratulations France! Champions of the best tournament we’ve ever seen, and we loved every minute.
Only 1,589 days till Qatar 2022 pic.twitter.com/oPsLNfy6xM
— Rebel FC (@FCRebelTweets) July 15, 2018
— Suman Narne (@nscbina) July 15, 2018
Finally Africa wins it’s 1st world Cup but in french colours lol. Congratulations France,well deserved. Love the Croatian spirit though & their great team spirit.
— Sunday Oliseh (@SundayOOliseh) July 15, 2018