Didier Deschamps has lauded the contribution VfB Stuttgart defender Benjamin Pavard made to France's 2018 FIFA World Cup win.
Pavard, 22, had only been capped four times at senior international level prior to Russia 2018, but started every game as Les Bleus lifted the trophy for the second time. He also became the first European to win the FIFA World Cup's Goal of the Tournament thanks to his stunning strike against Argentina in the last 16.
"Despite his former status and degree of inexperience at this level, Benjamin Pavard played brilliantly and stabilised the defence," France head coach Deschamps, who won the World Cup as a player in 1998, told kicker magazine. "Benjamin made a real difference. He has become a star, and he's earned it."
Pavard's World Cup heroics came fast on the heels of a debut Bundesliga campaign in which he was just one of four players not to miss a single minute of league action, underpinning the third-meanest defence in the division. Only twelve months earlier, having not long been deemed surplus to requirements by boyhood club Lille, he had helped Stuttgart gain promotion to the German top flight. Now he is one of the most coveted young defenders in world football.
"Until recently, Benjamin wasn't really in the media," Deschamps explained. "He's very friendly, and is really well thought of by his teammates. He's also got incredible self-confidence. Once he said to me: 'I don't fear anyone!' I told him: 'You're allowed to think that, but don't ever tell the media.'"
Watch: Benjamin Pavard - Stuttgart's defensive all-rounder
Following an extended post-World Cup break, Pavard is expected to return to the spotlight in time for Stuttgart's meeting with Third Division outfit Hansa Rostock in the DFB Cup first round on 8 August. A month later, world champions France travel to Bayern Munich's Allianz Arena to face Germany in the opening fixture of the inaugural UEFA Nations League.