Olivier Giroud has had an enigmatic career which has seen struggle turn to success in the grandest of forms. Former Arsenal teammate Mathieu Flamini described himself once jokingly like a fine wine. Getting better with age.
The analogy is very appropriate for the French striker also. His career took time before it burst into action. Spending his youth and early twenties in France, spells with Grenoble and Tours in Ligue 2 eventually saw him reach the top-tier with Montpellier.
Giroud was integral in a miraculous title-winning season for the French side. He, John Utaka, Younes Belhanda and Remy Cabella toppled a rising PSG and claimed the league prize.
Giroud moved to Arsenal the following summer. Whilst claiming he had arrived to play with Robin van Persie, Giroud found himself the Dutchman’s replacement. In a summer which also brought in Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla, Giroud helped the club to Champions League qualification.
Giroud would become a cult hero of sorts but, with many Gunners players, would divide opinion. Becoming an enabler, Giroud’s expert hold-up play would aid in the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott’s wide success.
However, Giroud would become known as a plan-B option. Often coming off the bench to win games, which he did, many times. He grew impatient and the signing of Alexandre Lacazette appeared the last straw.
Giroud moved, surprisingly, to Chelsea. With a plethora of attacking talent already in west London, minutes didn’t appear to be any more forthcoming. Again Giroud would serve as a back-up. Alvaro Morata, Tammy Abraham and now Timo Werner all taking the spotlight.
Giroud’s club career is mighty. 3 FA Cups and a Europa League added to the Ligue 1 title displays the importance of the Frenchman’s impact on his teams.
A plan-B at club level maybe, but to Didier Deschamps Giroud is a trusted man. France’s modern era of footballing talent borders on ridiculous. Every season a new talent seems to appear from the catchment of Les Bleus.
Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele, Houssem Aouar, Anthony Martial, Kingsley Coman, Jonathan Ikone to name but a few. Each year brings with it a new star in addition to the establish world class quality.
However, it appears no matter who shines, the faith in Olivier Giroud is unwavering. Deschamps has found his fulcrum and his faith has been rewarded.
100 caps and 42 goals is a wonderful return. But even the goals do not show his impact. Stats can provide insight into a wealth of intricacies of the game but sometimes the eye is needed to make the final judgement.
Deschamps’ eye sees all and a World Cup-winning player and now manager has final say. Period. Giroud played in every single game of the 2018 World Cup starting all but the first group game against Australia.
The game tied at 1-1, Giroud’s impact was match-winning. Becoming a focal point it was his lay-off for Paul Pogba which forced the own goal of Aziz Behich. From this point, Deschamps had realised the target man’s importance in Les Bleus hope at glory.
And inevitably, Giroud and France lifted the ultimate footballing prize. He has now become France’s second-highest goal-scorer and is 10 away from beating Thierry Henry’s record of 51.
At 34-years of age, Giroud’s career is nearing its closure but rightly, the Frenchman can be talked about as one of France’s best.
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