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Valbuena fulfils France ambition
Mar 21, 2013 9:02 AM GMT
Marseille playmaker Mathieu Valbuena says he is honoured to inherit the France number 10 shirt once worn by Zinedine Zidane.
Valbuena, 28, has been handed a key role for the national team under Didier Deschamps, who previously coached him at club level.
France host Georgia in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying on Friday, before a crucial showdown with Spain four days later.
And Valbuena - after impressing off the bench against Spain in Madrid last October - can expect to find himself at the centre of the action in two crucial games this week.
"To have the number 10 shirt for France is something I had hoped for one day," Valbuena said.
"Just being in the national team has already made me very proud, but having the number 10 is really something great for me. It's a really important responsibility to have. The last match went well for me but unfortunately we lost. So now taking on that role I'm determined to do it at my best."
Valbuena, who made his international debut in 2010, struggled for game time under previous coach Laurent Blanc, failing to feature at last year's European Championships in Poland and Ukraine.
"I think that it's in the past now (Euro 2012)," he said.
"But it's true that I was disappointed to have not played any games and not had any game time. These are things that were difficult to accept. But now it's just important to get back to it and work hard."