Olivier Giroud has insisted he still has plenty more to offer the French national team despite no longer being a guaranteed starter for his country at Euro 2020.
Having been one of the first names on the team sheet for France manager Didier Deschamps when Les Bleus won the World Cup in 2018 and reached the final of the previous European Championship on home soil two years earlier, Giroud has had to accept a reduced role in the squad so far in the current tournament.
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With France possessing an enviable array of talent in attacking positions, due to the continued emergence of the next generation of stars like Kylian Mbappe and the return to the international fold of Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, Giroud has been among the substitutes for both their group games to date, coming off the bench in their 1-1 draw with Hungary last time out.
However, the Chelsea centre-forward isn’t ready to wind down his international career just yet, and is still eager to make his mark for France at Euro 2020, and beyond. While admitting he is advancing in years, Giroud dismissed suggestions his age is a factor and insisted pundits write him off at their peril.
‘I’m not finished, far from it,’ said Giroud, ahead of tonight’s final group fixture against Portugal. ‘Count on me, grandpa is not dead! I’m almost 35 but have the hunger of a 20-year-old guy.’
Giroud does acknowledge the fierce competition for places in the France squad as they attempt to follow up their World Cup success by adding a third Euros title to their list of honours. The squad is mostly full of fast and tricky forwards, though, with a very different skillset to the more traditional target man Giroud.
He feels that ability to add something different, with boss Deschamps frequently stating his admiration for what Giroud brings to the team, means he still has plenty to contribute for France.
Combined with his wealth of experience at this level – the 34-year-old is competing in his fifth major tournament and only Thierry Henry has scored more goals for Les Bleus – Giroud feels the younger players trying to take his place in the team will need to step up to the challenge and do so on merit, rather than waiting for him to step aside by calling time on his international career.
‘The France team has a fairly incredible strike force, but I have a card to play because there are not other players with my profile. I am here to respond and bring what I like to bring.
‘I know how to do it with this team. I have the desire and, if the young people want to move me out, they will have to be ready too.’
Only Deschamps knows if Giroud will get his chance in the starting line-up tonight, as France attempt to secure top spot in Group F with a victory over Portugal, the side which defeated them in the final of Euro 2016, but if he does get the nod you can expect Oli to grab his opportunity with both hands.