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Just Fontaine: Former France striker and World Cup record holder dies aged 89

Just Fontaine, who holds the record for the most goals scored at a single World Cup, has died at the age of 89.

Fontaine scored 13 goals in just six matches for France at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden as they finished third.

He is joint-fourth on the all-time World Cup goal-scorers list alongside Argentina’s Lionel Messi.

“A star of French football, an outstanding striker, a legendary Reims player,” said his former club Stade de Reims.

Another of his former clubs, Paris St-Germain, said: “A thought for Just Fontaine. An icon of French football who has left us.”

The French Football Federation (FFF) described Fontaine as “the eternal goalscorer” and “a legend of world football”.

“The death of Just Fontaine plunges French football into deep emotion and immense sadness,” said FFF interim president Philippe Diallo.

“He wrote one of the most beautiful pages in the history of the French team.”

France manager Didier Deschamps said Fontaine’s death will “sadden everyone who loves football”, adding that he “is and will remain a legend of the France team.”

A minute’s applause in tribute to Fontaine will be held at all French football grounds, starting with Wednesday’s matches in the French Cup.

A prolific striker and record holder

Only three players have scored more goals at World Cups than Fontaine, a statistic made more remarkable by the fact he only played in the 1958 tournament.

He would not have even played there had it not been for injuries to fellow forwards Thadee Cisowski and Reims team-mate Rene Bliard.

The striker went on to score in every game in Sweden, including four goals in a 6-3 win over West Germany in the third-place play-off.

In total, Fontaine scored 30 goals in just 31 appearances for France between 1953 and 1960.

He spent much of his club career at Stade de Reims, where he scored 145 goals in 152 appearances, winning three Ligue 1 titles and reaching the 1959 European Cup final, where they lost to a Real Madrid side containing Alfredo di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas.

He also played for Nice and Moroccan side USM Casablanca but was forced to retire in 1962 at the age of just 28 after suffering a double leg fracture.

As a manager, Fontaine had two games in charge of France in 1967 before leading Paris St-Germain to promotion to the top division in 1974, where they have remained ever since.

A short spell at Toulouse followed before he took charge of Morocco, the country of his birth, leading them to third place at the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations.

Fontaine is also remembered for helping to form French player’s union the UNFP, becoming its first president in 1961.

In 2004 he was named on Brazil legend Pele’s list of the 125 greatest living footballers.

Fontaine’s career – in pictures

Just Fontaine wearing a France tracksuit
Just Fontaine was born in Morocco but played for France, the country of his father’s birth, making his debut in 1953.
Just Fontaine being held aloft by his team-mates after finishing as top scorer at the 1958 World Cup
Fontaine’s goalscoring exploits at the 1958 World Cup helped France reach the semi-finals for the first time.
Reims team photo in 1959
Fontaine (front row, second from right) was part of the famous Reims side that won three French titles, three French cups and reached the 1959 European Cup final.
Just Fontaine as France manager
Fontaine’s coaching career began with a two-game spell with France, but had greater success with PSG and Morocco.