World Cup-winning France coach Didier Deschamps revealed the defeat in the final of Euro 2016 in front of their home crowd proved to be a decisive moment in the nation's journey to World Cup glory.
He became only the second man after Franz Beckenbauer to win the World Cup both as a coach and a captain. He had tasted success at the biggest stage of world football with the victorious French team of 1998.
Deschamps' men came up with a free-flowing performance in the big final at the Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday, July 15. Big guns Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann delivered on the big night and they rode a bit of luck as well to beat a valiant Croatia 4-2.
Deschamps lauds France's 'marvellous' World Cup campaign
The 49-year-old tactician though insisted that he is not going to steal the limelight from his boys, who "worked hard" as a group to win the Jules Rimet Trophy in Moscow on Sunday, July 15.
"The group worked so hard and we had some tough moments along the way. It hurt so much to lose the Euros two years ago, but it made us learn too. The win is not about me, it's the players who won the game," Deschamps said, as quoted by The Guardian.
He added: "How marvellous! It's a young team, who are on the top of the world. Some are champions at the age of 19. We did not play a huge game but we showed mental quality. And we scored four goals anyway. They deserved to win.
"For 55 days, we have done a lot of work. It is the supreme coronation. We are proud to be French, to be Blues. The victory in the match belongs to them. Vive le Republic."
Deschamps' young team impresses
France were considered one of the pre-tournament favourites and they lived up to the billing even after not playing to the best of their abilities. Deschamps, it seems, had a clear plan laid out and the team executed it to perfection every time they went on to the pitch.
Having headed to the tournament with the third youngest side after Nigeria and England, Deschamps' men were ordinary in the round-robin stage despite topping Group C.
However, they peaked in the knockout stages, sending Argentina home in the Round of 16 and ending Uruguay's campaign in the quarter-final.
France's front three in Mbappe, Griezmann and Giroud impressed but their midfield and defence were world class, especially towards the business end of the tournament.
Protecting a one-goal lead against a power-packed Belgian unit in the semi-final is a testament to France's discipline in the tournament.
Deschamps wanted Pogba to curb his attacking instincts and play in a withdrawn role. The Manchester United midfielder, with support from N'Golo Kante and Blaise Matuidi, excelled in his role and peaked in the final where he dropped back to defend, created chances aplenty and scored as well.
Zlatko Dalic's reaction to Croatia's World Cup final defeat
Meanwhile, Croatian coach Zlatko Dalic wasn't able to hide the disappointment of having slipped in the final hurdle but insisted that he is proud of the team's efforts in Russia.
Not many expected Croatia to reach the final Sunday of the tournament but Luka Modic's men showcased their skills and resilience to defy the odds. They had laid down an early marker with a 3-0 demolition of Argentina in the group stages.
Croatia's mental and physical character was tested in the knockout stages as they were dragged into extra-time in the Round of 16, quarter-final and the semi-final but they made sure they were on the right side of the result every single time.
Even on Sunday, Croatia had the upper hand after an aggressive start but against the run of play, Mandzukic's own goal saw them trailing. Ivan Perisic equalised but a controversial VAR call helped France take the lead again through Griezmann's spot kick.
In the second half, they were outclassed by the brilliance of Pogba and Mbappe who troubled Dejan Lovren & Co. before scoring the decisive goals.
"I have to congratulate my players, it was maybe the best game we played in these championships; we controlled the match but we conceded," Dalic, who took charge of the team in 2017, told the media on Sunday.
"Against such a strong side as France you must not make mistakes. We are a bit sad but we have to be proud as well for what we've done."