Olivier Giroud looked back Tuesday at the route he took to become a World Cup winner and record-breaking goalscorer for France and said he had shown younger players that it was possible to be a late developer and still “move mountains”.
The veteran 36-year-old netted his 52nd France goal in Sunday’s 3-1 win over Poland that took the holders into a World Cup quarter-final with England and allowed him to overtake Thierry Henry to become his country’s all-time leading scorer.
A non-scoring member of France’s victorious 2018 World Cup campaign, the AC Milan striker’s remarkable career success comes despite him not making his international debut until the age of 25.
The contrast with his strike partner Kylian Mbappe, who is still just 23, could hardly be more stark — at the same age Giroud was still playing in Ligue 2.
“There have been lots of great memories, some real highs and some lows,” Giroud said as he spoke to reporters in Doha on Tuesday.
“I wasn’t playing at the very highest level at 20, so maybe I can serve as an example for those who have perhaps had a more atypical career like mine.”
“It shows that in life you need to be patient, work hard, that you can’t have everything all at once, the things that young people today seem to want,” he added.
“With a bit of talent, and by working on your strong points, always believing in your qualities and being resilient, you can move mountains.”
Giroud has profited from the withdrawal of Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema due to injury on the eve of the tournament and has scored three times so far in France’s run to the last eight.
He now has England in his sights and Saturday’s match at Al Bayt Stadium, in the desert north of Doha, will be a special occasion for a player who spent nine years in the Premier League, first with Arsenal and then Chelsea.
Giroud is familiar with most of the England team as a result and knows all about the game of Harry Kane, a striker with whom he shares many similarities, apart from age.
“He is big, he is powerful and very good in the air. He is also good with his back to goal. But I think in recent years he has started to drop deeper and participate more in the game,” Giroud said.
“He is still a clinical finisher in the box but he also brings the best out of his teammates.
“There are similarities between us but there are still seven years’ difference between us.”
France are hoping to become the first team in 60 years, since Pele’s Brazil in 1958 and 1962, to win back-to-back World Cups.
But Giroud is wary of Gareth Southgate’s young side.
“England so far have had a good tournament,” he insisted.
“There are so many great players, a young generation. They have quality but quantity also in the squad. They have different options. It will be a nice game to watch.”
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