"Griezmann is the main man. We again have a hero and the next striker to make us win tournaments – hopefully. I am actually so emotional. It’s nice to see the togetherness of the team and the fans," France legend Thiery Henry said on Thursday.
Antonie Griezmann became France's latest hero on Thursday night as his brace helped France into the finals of the Euro 2016 at the expense of World Champions Germany. The Atletico Madrid striker has now scored six goals in the tournament and is leading the golden boot race.
Yet, the diminutive striker was never France's No.1 choice before the European Championships. But after a series of controversies led to Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema's absence, Griezmann stepped up and has now given the French fans the belief that their team can finally lift a trophy after 16 years.
Griezmann, who plays for Atletico Madrid, has showed grit, courage and outstanding skills in the tournament. A match-winning performance in the final against Portugal can help him put his name among the legends.
The 25-year-old is also out to eclipse yesteryears French superstar Michael Platini’s mark of nine goals in European Championships.
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, too, is also with nine goals in European Championships and will be crossing swords with Griezmann in the final.
On Sunday, Griezmann will also have the chance to take revenge for the Champions League defeat by beating Portugal and stopping Ronaldo from securing another silverware. Real Madrid and Ronaldo had denied Griezmann a Champions League trophy after they beat Atletico in the finals in May via penalties.
Griezmann missed a penalty for Atletico in the Champions League final. Though he has been a hot shot for Atletico but he has mostly been in the shadows of Benzema and Oliver Giroud for France.
After the semi-final Griezmann accepted that it was the French team’s duty to excel at the European Championship to lift the mood of a nation wounded by terrorist attacks and social unrest.
"It was our duty to win the matches and try and entertain the French public, to spread some happiness and try and go all the way in this tournament," said Griezmann, whose sister, Maud, had escaped unhurt from the Bataclan theatre in November 2015 on the night when 130 people were killed in terrorist attacks in Paris and Saint-Denis.
Till now his is remembered for his tears after France lost 1-0 to eventual winners Germany in the 2014 World Cup quarter-final in Brazil but he was all smiles on Thursday as Les Blues got their revenge. The striker will now be hoping to take France all the way and break the 16-year-old Euro jinx.