Leonardo Jardim believes Monaco did French football proud in their exhilarating run to the Champions League semi-finals.
The Ligue 1 champions-elect came up short against Scudetto holders Juventus, going down 2-1 on Tuesday in Turin after a 2-0 defeat on home soil the previous week.
Jardim’s young stars have lit up the tournament, however, with Kylian Mbappe, Thomas Lemar, Bernardo Silva and others thrilling in goal-laden ties against Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund.
It remains to be seen whether Monaco’s leading lights will still be at Stade Louis II next season, with Jardim himself also linked with a move away, but the Portuguese was happy to reflect on a campaign of many positives on the continent.
He told beIN Sports: “On one side was a team with a lot of experience and the other a lot of youth.
— Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) May 9, 2017
“We are very happy to have been in this semi-final, I’m very proud of the players. We played today after we played on Saturday [against Nancy], and the players did their best.
“We could not have played for the draw. It is a result that makes us leave with our heads held high.
“We represented French football well. Now let’s focus on the championship. Let’s recover well, the players made a lot of effort here in Turin.”
Gonzalo Higuain’s first-leg double in Monaco badly hampered the Ligue 1 club’s chances of progression, but Jardim praised his side’s never-say-die attitude.
“Juventus had not conceded goals for several games, and the first leg was a bit of a blow to our ambitions, but today we played a good game with a lot of aggression,” he added.
“We continued to play well, we wanted to score and we scored a goal.
“We’ve had a great Champions League [season], we are proud of the players, it was the first experience at this level of many of them.”