On Zidane’s 40th Birthday, our writer Otis writes on his prolific profile. Without a shadow of a doubt Zidane, probably the best player of his generation, is among the names that Footballing World can never forget.
Zinedine Zidane – a name that is known to football fans worldwide. Zizou blessed us with his footballing ability for 18 years. He had everything – strength, balance, vision, skill and throughout his career, won trophies. However, Zidane’s on the pitch antics often conflicted with his serene character – especially his infamous head-butt on Marco Matterazzi at the 2006 World Cup final.
A three time World Player of the Year, “Zizou” first made a name for himself by leading the Juventus midfield for five seasons. He then made a move to Real Madrid for a world record fee believed to be around 73 million euros. Zidane became a vital part of the “Galacticos” project, appearing in a team filled with stars such as David Beckham, Luis Figo, Roberto Carlos and Ronaldo. Zinedine Zidane is widely regarded to be one of the best football players ever to grace the football field.
Zidane was spotted by a Cannes scout playing in a youth tournament. What was supposed to be a six week stay turned into a four year stay playing at professional level. During those four years, he helped them qualify for the UEFA Cup in the 1990/1991 season.
Bordeaux signed Zidane in 1992. At Bordeaux, he played with a midfield combination with Bixente Lizarazu and Christophe Duggary, which would later become an essential part of France’s 1998 World Cup winning squad. He won the 1995 Intertoto Cup and came runners-up in the 1995/96 UEFA Cup. The Frenchman scored 10 league goals in the first of his four seasons, and six in each of the next three.
Zidane made the move to Champions League winners Juventus in 1996 for a fee of £3.2million. It was at the Turin club where he made a name for himself. He scored 31 goals in 209 appearances for the Italian club. At the Stadio Delle Alpi, he won Serie A twice, Supercoppa Italiana, UEFA Super Cup, Intercontinental Cup and UEFA Intertoto Cup. Although not scoring regularly for Juventus, he provided for stars such as Alessandro Del Piero and David Trezeguet. The biggest disappointment for Zizou was that despite making two Champions League final appearances, he lost both times. Once against Borrusia Dortmund in 1997 where he failed to make an impression in the match because of the close marking by current Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert and the second time against his future club Real Madrid in 1998.
Real Madrid signed Zinedine Zidane to make him the most expensive player in world football. He was signed as part of Real Madrid president Florentino Perez’s future plan of making Real Madrid a star studded team. This humble figure was thrown into the limelight at the Bernabeu, but Zidane dealt with it brilliantly. He fitted into the team with his dazzling performances and became a cult hero among Madrid supporters. Zidane will best be remembered for “That” goal against Bayer Leverkusen in the 2002 Champions League final. A first time volley with his weaker foot helped Madrid on their way to winning their 9th European cup win.
Zidane was part of a classy midfield with Zidane, Makelele, Figo and Beckham all accompanying him in the middle of the park. And with Ronaldo as the man they provide, Madrid were spectacular to watch and even better to play in. His last season with Madrid finished trophyless. Zidane announced he will retire after the 2006 World Cup. At his last home match for Real Madrid, the squad wore commemorative kits with “ZIDANE 2001-2006″ under the club crest. This more or less sums up how much the Real Madrid faithful had taken Zidane as one of their very own.
Zidane got his first cap as a subsitute for France in a friendly match against Czech Republic. Zidane scored twice to make up a 2 goal deficit, the match ended 2-2. After Eric Cantona was given a year-long ban for assaulting a fan, Zidane was made to step up to the playmaker role in Euro 1996. France had a successful tournament before being knocked out by Czech Republic in the semi-finals on penalties. 2 years later, World Cup 98 was being held in Zidane’s home country. It was the first World Cup Zidane had participated in. This turned out be the highlight of Zidane’s glittering career by scoring two goals for Les Bleus against Brazil in the final to help them onto a 3-0 victory, and hand France their first ever World Cup.
He would also help them win Euro 2000 held in Netherlands and Belgium. Zidane’s last game for his country was tarnished by his head-butt on Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup Final. Materazzi reportedly made a remark about Zidane’s sister. It was a sad last image of Zidane walking past the trophy that would of made the ending of his career so much sweeter.
The ending of his carrer might not be very high still nobody can deny Zidane his place in the list of the greatest. Thank you Zizou and Happy Birthday.