Thierry Henry was born near Paris and scored 53 goals in 123 appearances for France, winning the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000.

But he (the Arsenal top scorer) is now plotting his home country’s downfall as assistant manager of Belgium.

“Thierry Henry is really important for us,” said defender Toby Alderweireld. “He tells us stories from his playing days and they inspire us.

“If he says something, it always turns out to be something helpful. His presence, his World Cup experience, is all a very positive influence.”

Tuesday’s match pitches him against a former team-mate in Deschamps. The pair were never beaten in the 21 matches they played together for France.

Deschamps said: “It is bizarre because he is French and will be on the opponents’ bench. But he is someone I really appreciate and I am happy for him.”

Belgium midfielder De Bruyne is sure Henry “will want us to come out on top” – but France full-back Lucas Hernandez thinks it is a win-win situation for the former Arsenal and Barcelona forward.

“All France knows him, what a great player he was and what an icon for football,” said Hernandez.

“But if we win, he will also be happy because he is a Frenchman.”

‘A derby between pals’

This meeting will be the first between bordering nations since 1986, when West Germany met France.

Belgium playmaker Hazard was born near the French border, with Le Soir newspaper calling him “the most French of all the Belgians”. A photograph which has surfaced on social media appears to show Hazard and his brothers in France kits.

Le Soir describes this game as “a derby between pals”, adding: “This 74th derby between France and Belgium will be played in an atmosphere of a joyous neighbourhood get-together.”

In the village of Warneton, which straddles the border, people are struggling to pick a team to back.

“I think we’ll support France, but also Belgium, at least a little bit, because they’re our friends,” one resident told France3. Another said: “We’re happy because we support both, and what’s great, is that one of them will make it to the final!”

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