Christophe Dugarry won both the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 with France and was a key member of a tight-kit squad that stayed almost entirely the same for several years.
He was far from a prolific striker at club level, yet he filled a crucial role for the national team that justified his continued selection as part of a glorious golden generation. Although a different type of player, it is role that Olivier Giroud has taken on for France more recently.
Primarily remembered in England for a short but sweet spell at Birmingham in the twilight of his career that makes him a cult hero at the club to this day, Dugarry rose to prominence in France with Bordeaux in the early 1990s.
He was noted for his flair and skill and scored consistently from season to season - if not producing high numbers overall. Like several of France’s golden generation that went on to win the World Cup on home soil, his chance at international level came in the wake of failure to qualify in 1994.
Zinedine Zidane fell into the same category, as did Lilian Thuram, Fabien Barthez, Youri Djorkaeff, Marcel Desailly, while emerging talents Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet arrived on the scene in the wake of Euro ’96.
At club level, Dugarry earned a move to AC Milan after the Euros, having scored twice against the Rossoneri for Bordeaux in the UEFA Cup a few months earlier. Things didn’t go as planned in Italy and were even worse the following season when he joined Barcelona and left without scoring a goal.
Dugarry returned to France to join Marseille midway through the 1997/98 campaign. He had briefly lost his place in the French national squad during that challenging time but was still among coach Aime Jacquet’s final 22 when it really came down to it.
Dugarry didn’t disappoint, scoring France’s first goal of the home World Cup in an opening group stage win over South Africa. That was one of only eight he scored in 55 appearances for Les Bleus.
He didn’t feature much for the rest of the tournament but was afforded a little under half an hour in the final against Brazil as France cruised to victory and lifted the World Cup trophy for the first time.
Back at club level, Dugarry was still struggling to replicate the form that had initially earned him recognition at Bordeaux several years earlier. He underwhelmed in his only full season at Marseille in 1998/99 and secured a return to Bordeaux a few months into the 1999/00 campaign.
However, just as had been the case in the build up to 1998, the place in the France squad that Dugarry had temporarily lost owing to patchy club form came back as Euro 2000 approached. He made his first international appearance in nine months around 10 weeks before the tournament and went on to start three of France’s six games, including the final against Italy.
Dugarry was never able to fully recapture his pre-1996 club form for the remainder of his career. But his role as a tournament must for France never abated. He was there as a half-strength French side won the Confederations Cup in 2001, albeit most as a substitute, and was there again as 14 members of the 1998 squad reunited for the 2002 World Cup in the far east.
In the months leading up the 2002 finals, Dugarry only scored once in 18 league appearances for Bordeaux and was chosen ahead of other French forwards in better form, featuring in all three group games of what descended into a disastrous tournament for the ageing champions.
His cult spell at Birmingham came later, but even that was relatively short-lived in its success, with goals while on loan earning him a permanent contract and performances petering out.
Yet despite an ultimately underwhelming club career, 55 appearances for France during the country’s most successful period in history alongside some of the greatest French players of all time and a mainstay of multiple triumphant tournament squads tells its own story.