It was a familiar feeling for former Bayern Munich and France stalwart Bixente Lizarazu as he arrived in India for the second year in a row. The World Cup winner was an ever-present sight in the recently concluded sixth edition of the FC Bayern Youth Cup India held over the course of two days in New Delhi.
The Bayern Munich Hall of Famer's second visit to the country was a fruitful one as he took stock of the youth tourney jointly organised by the Bundesliga giants and Adidas.
Summarising his India trip in an exclusive chat with Goal, Lizararu said, “I have come to see the players, get an idea of the level. I also gave a ‘masterclass’ to some Indian youngsters who wanted to learn and it was a great experience. I did one masterclass with the women as well, some very good women who played at a great level.”
“This was also a chance for me to interact with Bayern fans in Indian and we even played a game together which was a lot of fun.”
Lizarazu made 97 appearances for France over the course of his international career with the 1998 FIFA World Cup win on home soil being his crowning achievement. The latest French generation has followed in the footsteps of Lizarazu and Co by capturing the second ever World Cup title for the Les Blues is Russia last year.
There is a common connection between France’s two World Cup wining squads with Didier Deschamps captaining the 1998 team to glory while leading the 2018 squad to the title as the head coach.
Lizarazu has lauded the role played by his former team-mate in France’s latest World Cup win as he compared the two title-winning sides.
“I think more than anything, the spirt in the two teams was the same. Didier Deschamps brought the same spirit to the 2018 squad to the one we had during our time. This (2018) France squad did not go for the big individual names but ones who would fit in well in the system,” Lizarazu explained.
“Comparing both teams, I think ours (1998) was older and hence, we were able to exert more control on the game. The 2018 squad had a lot of young players and relied more on counter-attacks. It was a fantastic achievement for France in Russia and I must say that Deschamps has done a brilliant job with the team,” he continued.
Paris Saint-Germain starlet Kylian Mbappe played a starring role in France’s campaign in Russia and the 20-year-old is a genuine superstar in the making for Lizarazu.
“I think he can be the next genuine superstar in football and I think he already is one. He is the best young footballer in the world and after Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, there is no reason why he cannot become the best in the world,” said Lizarazu.
“He is very ambitious and has a very good footballing brain. If you look at Messi and Ronaldo, it is due to their brains that they have been able to focus and remain at the top for 10-15 years. I think Mbappe has that special quality in him too. He can enjoy a lot of success over the next decade.”
On his own personal front, Lizarazu is relishing life as a Bayern Munich ambassador and has no plans to take up a coaching stint any time soon.
“I love what I am doing currently. I have a fantastic job with Bayern which I love. I also do French national team commentary which is great. I have my television and radio commitments too which I like plus I live in a fantastic place. When everything in life is so perfect, why would you want to change it?” Lizarazu exclaimed.
Lizarazu’s short trip to India for the Youth Cup has now come to a close but he will be hoping to give some more tips to the Army Boys School, Bengaluru who won the India leg of the prestigious U-16 competition and will represent the country in the final at Munich.