Soccer-‘Father of the team’ Giroud looking for French revenge

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Euro 2024 Qualifier - Group B - France v Gibraltar - Allianz Riviera, Nice, France - November 18, 2023 France's Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring their thirteenth goal REUTERS/Claudia Greco/File Photo

PADERBORN, Germany (Reuters) - Olivier Giroud has embraced the role of father of the France team at the European Championship and is looking to erase the disappointment of losing the 2016 final on home soil.

The 37-year-old striker will call quits on his international career at the end of the tournament in Germany, and move to Major League Soccer with Los Angeles FC, but before that wants to make up for France’s loss in the decider to Portugal eight years ago when they hosted the finals.

“I am filled with excitement, with nostalgia, with desire. The main objective is to have the best competition possible,” Giroud told a Friday press conference.

“The loss in the final in 2016 remains in the back of my mind. This is the competition I dream of winning.”

Giroud, with 57 goals in 133 caps, might play a role off the bench in France’s group matches and, in the past, has started tournaments for France as a substitute but finished a starter.

“It's a bit of the story of my career at certain periods, when my back was against the wall, on the bench at Arsenal at the end of my time there, at Chelsea at the end, but I always bounced back.

“The most important thing is to stay in the right state of mind. I showed it in 2018 (at the World Cup) where I managed to reverse the trend. My state of mind remains the same, with the desire to give something to this team, with whatever role the coach gives me.

“Whatever my role, I’ll be giving my best and enjoying every moment, especially since it will be my last competition.”

Team mate Kylian Mbappe termed Giroud the father of the France team in a recent interview.

“At least he didn't say grandpa,” quipped Giroud. “It's true that I have a bit of a big brother role with the younger ones.

“But I don't feel that out of step with them. In my head, I am younger than my age. I tend to laugh with them, appreciate their music choice even if we don't necessarily have the same tastes. I try to put them at ease,” he explained.

France open their Group C campaign against Austria in Duesseldorf on Monday.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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