Platini to seek re-election as UEFA chief

TEL AVIV: French football great Michel Platini announced on Thursday that will stand for re-election as president of European football's governing body UEFA next year.

The 54-year-old Platini was first elected to the position in March 2007, when he beat off the challenge of the sitting president Lennart Johansson of Sweden after an at times bitter campaign.

Seen as being close to Sepp Blatter, the head of world governing body FIFA, Platini has been an advocate of widening the scope of football in Europe to smaller countries and has railed against the influence of big business concerns buying up clubs and inflating transfer prices.

His first mandate has also been marked by the decision to award the organisation of Euro 2012 to Poland and Ukraine, the first time the continent's showpiece tournament has gone to countries in the former Soviet bloc.

"I am a happy man and a happy president and I am very happy to be working with you all," Platini told members of the UEFA Congress meeting in the Israeli capital.

"We have already achieved a lot together and I am convinced we have many more things to do in the future. That is why I am announcing my candidature for the job of UEFA president

"Many people seemed to be concerned about my future and that is very flattering, But I had no intention of replying to the press or to other people. I wanted just to keep my replies for you so you would know first."

Platini is regarded as one of greatest French players of all time with the peak of his career coming in the 1980s when he starred as a multi-talented, goal-scoring No.10.

He had spells with Nancy, Saint Etienne and Juventus and won the coveted Ballon d'Or (European footballer of the Year) three years consecutively -- in 1983, 1984 and 1985.

In 1984, he inspired France to the European Championship title on home soil, but twice he fell to West Germany in the semi-finals of the World Cup in 1982 and 1986.

After retiring, he had a four-year stint as coach of the France team but failed to qualify the team for the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

He resigned in 1992 after France exited the European Championships at the first round and turned his attentions towards football administration notably the organisation of the 1998 World Cup in France.

Blatter welcomed Platini's decision saying it was a "normal progression in his career."

"We have been working closely together since 1998 and I am more than happy to continue in that manner. We are very close friends and his results in the job so far have been very good."