France’s first World Cup captain was shot on Boxing Day after siding with Hitler

France's first World Cup captain was shot dead by a firing squad on Boxing Day 1944 after siding with Adolf Hitler during the Second World War.

Alex Villaplane wore the armband for France's World Cup debut against Mexico in 1930, a moment he described as “the happiest day of my life”.

However, after becoming involved with the French Gestapo following the German occupation of France, he was later sentenced to death and shot by firing squad on the outskirts of Paris.

Villaplane and the seven others he was executed alongside were condemned as some of the most despicable traitors in France's history.

Having been born in Algeria in 1905 before moving to France aged 16, Villaplane also became the first player of north African to play for France.

He first played for local club FC Sete before moving to Nimes in 1927 and was revered for his aerial presence and passing ability during his early career.

However, he was also criticised for his lavish lifestyle, despite most of his career occurring before professionalism was introduced to French football.

He later went on to play for Racing Club de Paris, Antibes, Nice and Bastidienne de Bordeaux.

At Antibes, he was seen to be one of the key plotters after the club were found to have fixed a match en route to winning the league title.

He left for Nice shortly after, where he was regularly fined for not turning up to training.

Villaplane was imprisoned in 1935 for fixing horse races and was involved in gold smuggling by the time the Nazi's invaded France in 1940.

He was recruited by Henri Lafont to form a group which would go on to become the French Gestapo, notorious for tracking down Jews , resistance and other enemies of the Reich.

Later, he was chosen to lead the Brigade Nord Africain, a squadron of fighters consisting of immigrants which was infamous for its cruelty.

Following the liberation of Paris in 1944, Villaplane was tracked down and put on trial for his crimes.

At his trial, the prosecutor said: "They pillaged, raped, robbed, killed and teamed up with the Germans for even worse outrages, the most awful executions.

"They left fire and ruin in their wake. A witness told us how he saw with his own eyes these mercenaries take jewels from the still-twitching and bloodstained bodies of their victims.

"Villaplane was in the midst of all this, calm and smiling. Cheerful, almost invigorated."

Aged 39, Villaplane was sentenced to death along with seven others and on Boxing Day 1944 they were shot dead by firing squad on the outskirts of Paris.

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