At 26, Thuram was already talked about as one of the best defenders in the business. In his second season at the Tardini since joining from Monaco, he would help lead Parma to a solid sixth place finish as well as reaching a Coppa Italia Semi-Final, not to mention experiencing Champions League football despite Parma crashing out at the group stages.
The build up to the 1998 World Cup was all about Ronaldo and Brazil, while the Samba Boys opened the tournament with a 2-1 victory over Craig Browns Scotland, the hosts had to wait two more days to get their campaign underway.
Quietly confident, Jacquet started Thuram the right back position as expected for their opening game against South Africa, playing alongside the Parma defender was, Marcel Desailly, Laurent Blanc and Bixente Lizarazu making up a formidable back four, a back four that cruised their South African test by running out 3-0 winners.
If Thuram and co thought that game was easy, Saudi Arabia proved even more of a stroll as Les Blues destroyed Carlos Alberto Parreira’s side 4-0. With France comfortable thought to the last 16, Jacquet changed to a back three, meaning Thuram sat out as Vincent Candela came in to take his place. With Thuram earning a well-deserved break, France would ultimately lose their first goal of the tournament as Michael Laudrup scored from the penalty spot, however goals from Youri Djorkaeff and Emmanuel Petit were enough to send the host through with a 100% record.
As France headed to Lens for their last 16 clash with Paraguay, Thuram would find himself restored to the starting 11, with Thuram back, France ultimately kept a clean sheet, despite a tough task against the South American’s, Laurent Blanc secured victory with an goal in extra time.
Thuram would come up against Parma team mate Fabio Cannavaro in their mouth-watering Quarter Final clash with Italy in Paris. Arguably two of the best defences in the game, it was going to be a tight meeting, yet again Thuram would keep another clean sheet, as would Cannavaro, Luigi Di Biagio was the villain for Italy, his penalty rattled the cross bar sending Paris into pandemonium.
Thuram only ever scored two goals for France, both of which came in the one game and what a game to score them in, with France trailing to a Davor Suker goal, Thuram responded immediately levelling the game up before his 70th minute strike sent Croatia home and gave France a place in the World Cup final against Brazil.
As France comfortably defeated Brazil 3-0 to be crowned World Champions, Thuram would be awarded the bronze award for third most valuable player in the tournament as he was part of the impressive French backline that only conceded two goals in seven matches, just one from open play.