Euro 2020 Special

Giroud Breaks French Record: Striker Becomes Leading All-Time Goalscorer

French striker Olivier Giroud has broken the record of Thierry Henry to become the all-time leading goalscorer of all time in international football.

His goal in their last 16 match against Poland in the 2022 Qatar World Cup not only set his side on the road to victory, but it also gave him the record.

That was his 52 goal in all in a French shirt, in his 117th cap, and marks a considerable achievement for a player who was only expected to play a bit part role at this World Cup.


Benefitting from injuries

That was because, at the age of 36 years old, Giroud is in the twilight of his playing career certainly at an international level. Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema was widely expected to lead the French attack, along with Kylian Mbappé, whilst, in reserve, France could call on the likes of Christophe Nkunku, currently playing for RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga – although he seems set to join Chelsea soon – and who is the leading scorer in the Bundesliga so far this season.

However, both were injured before the start of the tournament, prompting a re-think for manager Didier Deschamps, and suddenly Giroud earned himself an unexpected reprieve and was brought back into the team.

He scored two goals against Australia in their opening group game, which meant that he had tied Henry’s record. And now he has surpassed it.


Henry’s record

Henry played for France 123 times between 1997 and 2010 and managed 51 goals in that time. He was part of the squad that won the World Cup in 1998 on home soil, although he did not play in the final itself against Brazil.

For Irish fans he will always be infamous because during a play-off between the two countries for the 2010 World Cup he deliberately controlled the ball twice with his hand before supplying the cross for what turned out to be the eventual winner.

He has had a less happy World Cup than Giroud. He is currently employed as an assistant manager to the Belgium team, who, despite being ranked second in the world before the start of the tournament, were eliminated at the group stage and departed home amidst acrimony and bitter arguments in their squad.

To his credit, Henry has always sent Giroud a message after each of his goalsand was among the first to congratulate him on Sunday.


How long will he hold the record?

Giroud may just have set the record, but he will already be looking over his shoulder at the achievements of his French team-mate Kylian Mbappé. He scored twice against the Poles to take his international; tally to 33 goals, and he is now leading the race for the Golden Boot at this year’s World Cup (awarded to the top goal scorer in the tournament).

It also means that he has scored exactly 250 goals for club and country, and he will not turn 24 until later this month.

If he can stay fit, and retain his current hunger, then it seems that he must surely claim the record for himself before too long.


Giroud defying his age

Giroud has been defying expectations for some time now, though.

Despite scoring more than 100 goals for Arsenal, and winning the World Cup in 2018 with France, he was released by the Gunners because they deemed him getting too old. Never the most mobile of players, they preferred younger, faster players, but, arguably, none of his replacements have offered the same consistent attacking threat.

He moved across London to Chelsea, and would win the FA Cup, Europa League (he scored against Arsenal in the final0, and Champions League.

He then joined AC Milan, and, in his first season in Serie A, helped them win their first Scudetto in a decade.

This will almost certainly be his last international tournament, but he will be able to bow out at the top. And, if he can return home with another World Cup winners’ medal in his collection, which would be a fine way to top off what has been a great career.

He will be looking to his tally when France play England in their quarter-final on Friday.





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