Age no barrier to success for France - Makelele
Claude Makelele claims France are proving age does not have to be a barrier after Les Bleus reached the World Cup semi-final.
The team of Zinedine Zidane and co have rediscovered their golden touch and made the last four of the competition in Germany with a 1-0 defeat of defending champions Brazil.
Many believed the all-conquering heroes who won the tournament eight years ago were finished as an international force but midfielder Makelele insisted he had always dismissed such a notion.
Makelele said: 'In football there's no age, I have always said it.
'We are proving in football there's no age.'
Veterans like Makelele, who is 32 and plays club football at Chelsea, and 33-year-old Zidane have been the key to beating teams like Spain and Brazil after a stuttering start to their group campaign.
But this French team may be even better than the sides in 1998, and at Euro 2000 - Thierry Henry is at the peak of his game and the Marseilles' Franck Ribery has emerged as one of the stars of the tournament.
Henry provides an attacking threat that is second to none while Ribery's runs into the final third have wreaked havoc on opponents.
There is also Zidane, who is to retire after this World Cup, much to the regret of football lovers and of his fellow team-mates.
Zidane provided the assist for Arsenal's Henry to strike the goal that sealed their triumph against Brazil.
'Henry is a player that works well,' said Makelele.
'He accelerates in any time and is a pleasure to have him up front.
'We all know Zidane, I think his CV speaks for itself.'
Next up are Portugal, a team coached by the man, Luiz Felipe Scolari, who led Brazil to glory four years ago in Japan and South Korea and Makelele is under no illusions as to the size of the task.
'We must keep our heads down because we face a serious team that plays very well,' he said.
'There's a place up for grabs for the final and we are in a beautiful position.'
Scolari's tactics have proved right so far, with the Portuguese beating England despite the absence of playmaker Deco and defender Costinha.
Portugal showed they have determination, beating 10-man England on penalties, and additionally, they have an old score to settle with France having lost to them in the semi-finals at Euro 2000.
'It's going to be a difficult game and we just have to prepare for it in the same manner we prepared for our previous games,' said Makelele.