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Famous Sports Figures in France
France has been the homeland of the major legendary sports figures. Prominent among them have been: soccer players, rugby players, tennis players, cyclists, car racers and ice-skaters. However soccer is probably the foremost popular sports discipline in France. Another is rugby. Each year these group sports attract thousands of fans to France's most outstanding stadiums such as: Parc des Princes, Stade de France, Stade Louis 2, Stade Velodrome and many more. Some of the best known French sport figures are described below.
(1965-08-06 - )
Luc Alphand is an interesting example of a sportsman who represents two different kind of disciplines: alpine skiing and car driving. He began his career in junior skiing competitions and became Junior World Champion of the downhill in 1983. One year later he started taking part in senior events and achieved victories in 12 World Cup races including 10 downhill and two Super G. In 1997 he marked his greatest success and scooped up anoverall World Cup title. Despite this he retired from skiing in the same year. Shortly afterwards Alphand decided to try his hand at a racing career. He took part in a few competitions such as: European Le Mans Series in 2001 and in FIA GT Championship and Lamborghini Supertrophy one year later. In 2006 he finished first in the Dakar Rally while a year earlier he had been runner-up.
(1975-01-15 - )
Mary Pierce is one of France's most famous tennis players. She was born in the Canadian city Montreal, but decided to represent France. Mary Pierce started playing tennis when she was 10. Four years later she played her first game on the professional circuit. In the beginning she was under strong but questionable influence of her father who often behaved in an uncouth manner. As a result he was thrown out from many a tournament including the French Open in 1993. One year later Mary Pierce qualified for her first final at the French Open and in 1995 she won the Australian Open. At various times she was ranked the third best woman tennis player on the world. Unfortunately recently she has not appeared in any major tournaments regularly as she continued to cope with a serious ligament injury.
(1979-07-05 - )
Amélie Mauresmo is a well-known French tennis player. She started to train when she was 4. In 1996 she became Junior World Champion as she grabbed French Open and Wimbledon titles. In 2004 during the Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Mauresmo lost to Belgian Justine Henin-Hardenne receivingthe silver medal. Her most successful year was 2006 when Mauresmo won 5h3 Australian Open and Wimbledon.
(1972-06-23 - )
Zinedine Zidane also nicknamed ‘Zizou’ is one of France's most illustrious soccer players. He began his career in AS Cannes and then played in such clubs as: Girondins de Bordeaux, Juventus and Real Madrid. He was also a regular French national team offensive midfielder. In 1998 he led France to a spectacular victory in the World Cup. Two years later he took part in the European Championships and France won the title. Unfortunately in 2002 due to a serious injury Zidane was unable to play in two games and France was eliminated in the first round. Euro 2004 was also a disappointment for France but in the 2006 World Cup Zidane and his national team mates received second place and the silver medal losing to Italy through penalties.
Raymond Kopa (Kopaszewski)
(1931-10-13 - )
Raymond Kopa is a legendary French soccer player who contributed to the successes of the French national team and Real Madrid. He started playing soccer in SCO Angers and then joined Stade de Reims. With this second team Kopa reached League 1 Championship titles in 1953 and 1955. In 1956 his French team qualified for the European Cup final, but lost in the last match against Real Madrid. However soon after he was transferred to Real. With this team he won two Primera Division Championships in 1957 and 1958 as well as the European Cup. Nevertheless Kopa decided to spend the last years of his career in his homeland. It is also worth mentioning that Raymond Kopa was an important playerfor the French national team which finished third during the 1958 World Cup.
(1977-08-17 - )
Thierry Henry is one of the best and most famous forward French soccer ever witnessed. He began his career in youth clubs: I.N.F Clairefontaine and Versailles. At the age of 17 he transferred to the professional team AS Monaco and was then traded to Juventus and Arsenal. Since 1997 he has been a regular striker for theFrench national team. In 2004 and 2005 Thierry Henry won the European Golden Boot award. He is also the all time top scorer for Arsenal both in the Premiership as well as in European cups including the Champions League. Nowadays he plays for FC Barcelona.
(1958-10-31 - )
Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli is the most famous French female cyclist ever. During her career she took part in many road and track bicycle races. During the 1996 Summer Olympic Games she won the Gold Medal in cycling while four years earlier she was a silver medalist. Aside from taking part in sports competitions, Jeannie Longo also devoted a lot of time to her education. As a result she received a B.S. degree in Mathematics as well as an MBA and doctorate in Sports Management. However Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli will always be remembered for winningthe French and World Championship in cycling a total of 51 times.
(1973-05-28 - )
Lionel Letizi, a native of Nice, is a professional football goalkeeper, who started his career in the early 1990s, taking his first steps with Olympique Gymnaste Club de Nice Côte d'Azur, known as OGC Nice. In 1994, he won the French second division, and then the first division. At that time Letizi's talent was noticed, and in 1996 he joined FC Metz, which won the French League Cup three years later. In 2000, he transferred to Paris Saint-Germain, which competed in the Champions’ League. He was selected for the National French Team for times, however never had a chance to replace Fabien Barthez. In June 2006, Letzi transferred again, this time to the Glasgow Rangers, but in 2007 he returned home again and rejoined OGC Nice.