France left delighted by football rule being scrapped – despite winning Euros thanks to it

France celebrate after adding the European Championship to the World Cup they won two years earlier (Image: Getty Images)

Emmanuel Petit insisted France were delighted to see the back of the Golden Goal rule – despite owing World Cup and Euros glory to it. The rule – now relegated to history over two decades ago – instantly declared the first team to score in extra time as the winner, eliminating the need for penalties.

France gained significantly from the short-lived format, claiming victory in a second-round match against Paraguay with a Golden Goal at the 1998 World Cup, which they ultimately won. Then, at Euro 2000, they were able to secure wins against both Portugal and Italy in the semi-final and final respectively thanks to Golden Goals.

This rule survived one more tournament, the 2002 World Cup, before being swapped out for the Silver Goal, where the team leading at the end of the first period of extra time emerged triumphant. Ahead of the 2006 World Cup in Germany, all goals deemed Olympic medal-worthy were discontinued, an outcome that Petit and his ex-teammates found surprisingly pleasing.

“We didn’t like it,” he said. “It was in our favour but at the same time, we didn’t like it. This is not football so I’m very happy it didn’t last long.”

The abandonment of Golden and Silver goals inevitably led us back to the nail-biting climax of penalty shootouts after a stalemate in extra-time. It’s not just the England supporters who feel their nerves jangle at the prospect. French fans too have endured their share of heartache from the spot, with the agony of the last World Cup final still fresh in the memory.

Yet Arsenal icon Petit accepts the necessity of penalties in deciding the fate of tournaments, even though he maintains that replicating the intense pressure of a live knockout match in training is impossible.

“Penalties are part of football,” said the former Chelsea midfielder. “There is a dramatic side to it with lots of emotions. We lost the last World Cup on penalties and other tournaments. It’s a big talking point in France.”

Zinedine Zidane buries the Golden Goal penalty which saw France beat Portugal in the semi-finals of Euro 2000 (Image: Getty Images)

Conveying the the stark difference between practice and reality, Petit explained: “But I always try to explain to people that you can train and score 100 goals straight away in penalties but if I put you in the final or semi-final in a big competition, with all the pressure, when you’re tired, when you know that everybody is looking at you..”

“As soon as you arrive in the penalty area, you almost fall on the floor because of the pressure. There is no comparison to scoring in a training camp. It’s not the same at all, but there’s been big talk about it in France for two/three years now.

“A lot of people have asked Didier Deschamps why he doesn’t prepare for penalties. He gives the same answer, ‘listen, I’ve been a player, I know what it takes in terms of emotions’. You can prepare but when it comes to the competitions, you don’t react in the same way.”

Emmanuel Petit was speaking on behalf of BetMGM. Play the new £2million Golden Goals game by predicting Euro 2024 scores at . BeGambleAware 18+