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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 June, 2004, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
Barthez could quit France
Fabien Barthez
Fabien Barthez could quit international football if other older members of the France squad decide to retire.

Les Bleus' quarter-final exit in Euro 2004 prompted suggestions that the old guard could now step down.

And, asked if he would quit if fellow 1998 World Cup winners did, Barthez told l'Equipe: "It's a possibility.

"I need that sort of friendship. We are in the same age category, we have the same values. I cannot see me staying by myself. Let the youth take over."

But the former Manchester United player said that it would depend on who replaced the outgoing Jacques Santini as the new coach of France.

"A lot will depend on the discussion I will have with the future manager," Barthez said.

Zinedine Zidane admitted that French football could be facing the end of an era following the reigning champions' shock defeat by Greece in Portugal.

The defeat followed a poor performance in the 2002 World Cup and Zidane, a World Cup winner in 1998 and European Champion in 2000, said: "It could be the end of a cycle.

"We're all responsible for our elimination, we did not pull together."

The 32-year-old Real Madrid star has yet to confirm whether he will lead France's assault on the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

There was a lack of clear ideas in the last minutes of the game
France coach Jacques Santini

But defenders Bixente Lizarazu and Marcel Desailly, and midfielder Claude Makelele face the end of their international careers.

Santini refused to comment on whether the players at the heart of France's dominance at the turn of the century, were now history.

"Someone else will be taking my post in August and regarding the players of that generation, it's up to him to decide what they will do with their future," he said.

The France coach admitted that a star-studded side with players as gifted as Zidane, Thierry Henry, and Robert Pires, ran out of ideas when confronted by Greece's well organised defence.

Santini said: "When the space shrinks you need an athletic element at its utmost.

"Perhaps we may not have been individually athletic or fit enough.

Former French greats Michel Platini and Jean Tigana
Platini's backing could be a vital weapon for Tigana (right)

"There was too much technical left-over and lack of clear ideas in the last minutes of the game."

Meanwhile, former Fulham boss Jean Tigana heads the list of the three men in the running to succeed Santini.

Tigana is on a three-man short-list drawn up by French Football Federation Claude Simonet, along with Bruno Metsu and former Manchester United defender Laurent Blanc.

Tigana is in a strong position as he enjoys the backing of FFF vice-president Michael Platini, a fellow member of the 'Four Musketeers' midfield which piloted France to the 1984 European Championship.

Metsu was the architect of France's early exit from the 2002 World Cup when his Senegal side beat them 1-0 in the opening match.





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