As Euro 2012 approaches, OM.net gives you a run down on the club's three internationals picked in the France squad for the tournament, starting with Alou Diarra.
World Cup matches: 3
World Cup qualifiers: 11
Euro qualifiers: 6
1st cap: France 0-0 Ireland (9 October 2004)
What a career Alou has had! Earmarked as a future great of the French game, the tall defensive midfielder was very young when he quit Louhans-Cuiseaux to cut his teeth at Bayern Munich, then Liverpool. The two clubs are giants of the European game and the young Frenchman was unable to impose himself. His breakthrough finally came via a series of loan spells back in his homeland, at Le Havre, Bastia and Lens. His progress didn't go unnoticed and Raymond Domenech, new coach of Les Bleus, offered him his first cap in a 2006 World Cup qualifier against Ireland (0-0).
Confirming all that early promise, Alou Diarra imposed himself in the France squad and became first choice replacement for the Makélélé/Vieira midfield partnership. It was no surprise then when Patrick Vieira was injured in the 2006 World Cup final that Domenech didn't hesitate in throwing Alou into the game.
It was a great show of confidence and it only grew in the following seasons. He became a veritable sentinel at Girondins de Bordeaux, whom he joined in 2007, and the same happened on the international stage. He wore the captain's armband for Les Bleus for the first time in the World Cup in South Africa, against the host nation (2-0 loss) and continued to be one of the leaders under new coach Laurent Blanc. In fact, he wore the armband more than any other player in qualifiers for Euro 2012.