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Leave me alone, prolific Giroud tells mudslingers

Football Soccer - Euro 2016 - France News Conference - Domaine de Montjoye - Clairefontaine, France - 11/6/16 France's Olivier Giroud REUTERS/Charles Platiau
Football Soccer - Euro 2016 - France News Conference - Domaine de Montjoye - Clairefontaine, France - 11/6/16 France's Olivier Giroud REUTERS/Charles Platiau

CLAIREFONTAINE, France (Reuters) - Olivier Giroud said he had breathed a sigh of relief after scoring the first goal in Euro 2016 and wished the boos he has faced throughout his career would now go away.

The France striker, who opened the scoring with a brave header in Friday's 2-1 win over Romania on Friday, now has eight goals from his last eight games for the national team.

Giroud, who has scored 18 goals for France, is the team's most prolific striker since Didiers Deschamps took over as coach in 2012.

"My statistics speak for themselves," Giroud told a news conference at France's training camp outside Paris on Saturday.

"People say I get better through adversity but I'd be happy to live without all the mudslingers," he added.

The 29-year-old Giroud was jeered off the pitch by France fans in a 3-2 friendly win in Cameroon two weeks ago before silencing critics with two goals in a 3-0 win over Scotland in Les Bleus' final warm-up.

Being booed is nothing new to Giroud, who has also faced regular criticism at club level with Arsenal.

BENZEMA PROBLEM

A true fighter, if not an artist, Giroud had an extra problem with the French fans, many of whom felt he had been picked only because Karim Benzema, facing a ban because of his involvement in an alleged blackmail scandal, was left out.

Close to tears during the national anthems before Friday's game at Stade de France, Giroud looked sluggish at first, like the rest of the team, and squandered a few opportunities before he scored in the second half.

"I was feeling tense," he said. "The pressure was enormous and the expectations were high, we could all feel that. So yes, definitely, converting that chance was a big relief."

His goal was slightly controversial, Giroud touching the arm of Romania goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu while in the air.

"I didn't realise I did it but after watching the replay, I guess that could have been a foul," he said. "But then, if you jump without moving your arms, you don't go very high."

Giroud, who needs more chances than others to score, said he realised criticism could soon return.

"I just try to give it my best without asking myself too many questions," he said. "You never finish building the road to success. I like that one, it's from my brother. It means you must never stop fighting."

The next fight for Giroud is on Wednesday in Marseille, where France will face Albania in their second Group A game.

(Editing by Clare Fallon)

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