France captain Hugo Lloris said the conclusion of the 2022 World Cup would represent the beginning of a new generation within the national team, with Kylian Mbappe at its head.
The 2018 champions were beaten 4-2 on penalties by Argentina at Lusail Stadium on Sunday night in one of the most thrilling finals in tournament history.
Mbappe scored a hat-trick on the night, with two goals in 97 seconds from the 80th minute wiping out Argentina’s two-goal advantage and sending the game into extra-time.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward, 23, struck again in the additional period to make it 3-3, becoming only the second player to register a hat-trick in a World Cup final. England’s Geoff Hurst is the other, for England in 1966.
Mbappe, who starred for France en route to the 2018 title, finished the tournament as top scorer, with eight goals.
Speaking after the defeat, Lloris said the tournament was “a passing of the baton between one generation coming to the final stage of their careers to a new generation led by Kylian”.
“He showed strong leadership in this tournament and even more so in this final," added Lloris. "We must keep this France team at the top.”
Lloris, 36, was bidding to become the first captain to lift two World Cups. The Tottenham goalkeeper is his country’s all-time leading appearance-maker, passing the mark in Qatar. As it stands, he has 145 caps for France.
Asked about the final, Lloris said: “It was like a boxing match: we went blow for blow. We didn't give up. We needed a winner, and it was decided on penalties. That's always cruel. We are empty.
Argentina beat France in World Cup final: Player ratings
“We could have let it slip at 2-0, but we continued to believe that we could turn the game around. We must congratulate Argentina who played a great tournament and a great final.
“There were a lot of great players in both sides. But it’s true that Leo Messi and Kylian Mbappe are very special and I think they were top [in the final], they were top for their team … when you are on the wrong side, it’s always difficult to find the words, it is always painful.”
However, Lloris would not comment too extensively on his international future, saying only: “I need, like everyone, to take a step back, to gain perspective on things.
“We'll see in a few weeks. We're leaving a tournament like this one drained and even more so after what happened tonight. We don't have much strength left. We just want to be back with our families.”
Didier Deschamps also revealed that he will take his time before deciding on whether he will stay on as France manager after his team's heartbreaking defeat.
The 54-year-old, in charge since 2012, is now out of contract but French Football Federation President Noel Le Graet had said Deschamps would be offered new terms if he reached the semi-finals.
Asked whether the result of the final would influence a decision on his future, Deschamps said: “Even with a different result I would not have given an answer today.”
“Obviously I am very sad. I will have a meeting with the president at the start of the new year and you will know after that,” he added.