Just Fontaine, a “monument of French football” who in 1958 scored a record 13 goals in a single edition of the World Cup, has died aged 89. The prolific striker scored 30 goals in 21 internationals for France between 1953 and 1960.
But Fontaine will always be remembered for the mark he set in Sweden, when he was instrumental in Les Bleus reaching the semi-finals.
In his club career, Fontaine’s strike rate was as impressive. He scored 259 goals from 283 matches and was one of the key players of the great Stade de Reims team who reached the European Cup final in 1959.
Reims, who won three French top-flight titles with Fontaine between 1958 and 1962, lost 2-0 to Real Madrid but “Justo” ended up as the competition’s top scorer with 10 goals.
His death was announced by Paris Saint-Germain, who he managed between 1973 and 1976, leading them to promotion back to Ligue 1 in 1974. PSG described Fontaine as a “monument of French football”.
Born in Morocco in 1933, Fontaine started out at USM Casablanca before joining Nice in 1953. He moved on to Reims three years later.
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 Pelé who hit a second-half hat-trick – ran out 5-2 winners. Fontaine smashed four past West Germany in the third-place playoff 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. – Guardian