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Pleat hails French flair

English Barclays Premiership

The French victory in Euro2000 has been hailed by our Director of Football as a triumph for flair and creativity.

David Pleat was speaking after France beat Italy 2-1 in Rotterdam with a great "golden goal" in extra time by David Trezeguet.

"We must never believe that we can substitute work rate for flair and creativity," he said. "The English game has just got to realise that. Players have to work hard but it is the skillful and subtle ones who succeed."

Pleat believes that youngsters need to be encouraged by the skills on display from stars such as France's Zinedine Zidane and all players should be coached properly.

"We must identify and and retain the good coaches. There are too many straight lines in our game, we must learn to play around opponents."

He praised the French coach Roger Lemerre's handling of the squad during the tournament for coping with six games in 21 days.

"He made super changes at the right time and his players used the full width of the pitch, unlike the midfield mash we sometimes see in this country."

Zidane was his player of the tournament, describing him a "wonderful". But he was also impressed by midfielder Luis Figo of Portugal and two defenders, Italy's Fabio Cannavero and Fernando Couto of Portugal.

Photographs courtesy of Action Images Ltd.

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