In Northern France, about an hour outside Paris, lies the central nervous system of the French football machine. Buried in the plush green woods of the Rambouillet Forest, the Institut national du football de Clairefontaine, or simply INF Clairefontaine, is perhaps the most celebrated national football academy in the world.
Clairefontaine is responsible for refining and perfecting the technical and tactical acumen of players like Thierry Henry, Louis Saha, Medhi Benatia, Nicolas Anelka, William Gallas, Hatem Ben Arfa, Abou Diaby, Olivier Giroud, Blaise Matuidi, and the recent crown jewel of the program, PSG’s Kylian Mbappe.
There were 50 players born in France representing various nations at the 2018 World Cup, an astounding figure that demonstrates the scope of France’s ability to produce football players. But how did the French perfect the concept of player development? How has this country continuously produced the most exciting, powerful, technical, and tactically smart players on the planet?
Quite simply, by developing the best individuals for the benefit of the team.