Cissé made his international debut against Belgium at the age of 21, coming on as a 48th-minute substitute for David Trezeguet on 18 May 2002. The team manager Roger Lemerre included Cissé in his 23-man squad for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. In the tournament, he played in all of the group matches against Senegal, Uruguay, and Denmark, coming on as a substitute in all three games, but France were eliminated in the World Cup group stages. His first goal in the senior tournament came on 7 September 2002 against Cyprus in the Euro 2004 qualifiers. Cissé was part of the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup championship team. He scored his only goal of the tournament from the penalty spot in France’s 1–0 win against Colombia on 18 June 2003. After being banned from UEFA Euro 2004, Cissé was next in the 2006 FIFA World Cup tournament in Germany. In France’s final warm-up match against China on 7 June 2006, he suffered another broken leg. When ten minutes into the game, he was knocked off balance by the China captain Zheng Zhi and fell with his leg twisting under him. “It’s so tough to hear Djibril scream like that,” said fellow French striker Thierry Henry. “You lose a teammate and also a friend. But he is tough; he will come back.” He needed immediate surgery to repair his open fractured tibia so was out of the tournament. During the UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying campaign, Cissé played three games, but did not win a place in the France squad for the finals. After demonstrating his goal-scoring form for Panathinaikos, in March 2010, Cissé was recalled to the French squad for a friendly against Spain in Paris. When introduced into the match as a substitute, he had a considerable impact, heading on a Florent Malouda cross only for Iker Casillas to push it onto the post. On 11 May 2010, he was included by manager Raymond Domenech in France’s final 23-man squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. On 22 June, he was in France’s starting eleven for the team’s final game of the group stage versus South Africa.