Late developer erases the doubts

euro-spy; MAN ON THE SPOT Youri Djorkaeff (France)

A year ago he was little more than a journeyman footballer with a famous father. Having spent five years enjoying modest success with Monaco, Youri Djorkaeff had reached the fringes of the French side without giving any indication that his international career would eclipse that of his father Jean, who in the 1960s captained his country and won 48 caps.

Djorkaeff Jnr's move to Paris St-Germain 12 months ago changed all that. He had a splendid season in the French capital, quickly established himself at international level as a crucial member of Aime Jacquet's team and, by the end of the campaign, had earned himself a pounds 4m move to Internazionale.

Euro 96 had its first sight of Djorkaeff on Monday, when he was man of the match in France's 1-0 victory over Romania in Newcastle. Playing just in front of the midfield and behind the striker Christophe Dugarry, who scored the game's only goal, Djorkaeff showed all the qualities that made him such a favourite with the Parc des Princes crowd: deft touches on the ball and the ability to run at and beat retreating defenders.

Any modern-day French midfielder of any quality quickly finds himself mentioned in the same breath as Michel Platini, who led his country to the 1984 European Championship. However, having scored10 goals in his first 17 matches for France, Djorkaeff has a better strike rate at this stage of his international career than either Platini or Eric Cantona. He scored several vital goals in the qualification games for Euro 96, and recalls one with particular affection - a free-kick that earned a draw against Poland last summer. "That goal changed everything," he said. "That day I overcame the coach's doubts."

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