Sports Persons » Football Players » ZINEDINE ZIDANE
Talk about the talismans in the soccer world and the list would be incomplete without mentioning the name of the much skilled and talented Zinedine Zidane. Truly a magnificent professional, Zidane is one of the greatest players in the history of football that the game has ever witnessed. A master at the fundamentals and techniques of the game, Zidane is known for his great controlling and dribbling skills, in addition to his magic ball touch, focussed vision and great leadership traits. During his playing years, he was an unsurpassed player when it came to controlling and receiving the ball. In his 108 international outings, he scored 31 goals. Today a retired professional, Zidane’s fancy with the game started young. Little did people known then that Zidane would create history in the soccer world with his amazing talent and prowess. He has had an amazing career graph with a win each at the FIFA World Cup (1998) and Euro (2000) with France. During his time at the game, he was the top notch player for France. For his excellence, Zidane has been bestowed with many a coveted awards and honors including the FIFA World Player of the Year three times, and Ballon D'Or once. He was even awarded the 2006 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball on his retirement for his outstanding contribution to the game.
Zidane’s first stint at the international level of football was not as a Top Eleven for France but as a substitute in a friendly match against Czech Republic. However, his entry was the saving grace for the team as he recovered France from the 2-0 defeat to a 2-2 draw, scoring twice.
It was Eric Cantona year-long suspension that acted as a boon for Zidane as he successfully took over the playmaker position in 1995. Following year, France was eliminated from the Euro 96 semi-finals in the penalty shootout after the match ended at extra time with none of the teams scoring a goal.
Zidane’s first appearance at the FIFA World Cup was in the year 1998. Throughout the tournament, Zidane showed promise and character. He was outstanding at each of the outings but had a tough luck at striking a goal. France stealthily moved up the chart, defeating each of its opponents to reach the semi-finals, where it defeated Croatia by 2–1, gaining an entry into the finals.
France was to play the 1998 FIFA World Cup final against defending champions, Brazil, who were also the top favourite at the game. Zidane, who had still not scored a goal at the World Cup, went on to hit two identical goals, both headers, giving France an upper-hand by half-time as the scorecard read 2-0. By the end of the second half, France won the game and the World Cup (its first ever) with 3-0. Zidane was instantly crowned as the national hero.
Two years later, France won the Euro 2000, thus becoming the first ever nation to hold both the World Cup and the European Championship since West Germany in 1974. Zidane, once again, was the hero of the tournament as he finished with two goals, one at the quarter-final against Spain and the golden goal in the semi-final against Portugal.
The reigning world and European champions, however, had a tough luck at the 2002 FIFA World Cup as Zidane, their most trusted and able player was suffering from thigh injury. Without him by the side, France lost their first two games. Zidane was brought back for the third game despite being unfit. However, his tropublesome medical condition obstructed him for playing his best, thus adding on to the woes of the defending champions who were eliminated in the group stage without scoring a single goal.
Euro 2004 was reportedly Zidane’s last tournament as he intended to retire thereafter. France topped their group with wins over England and Switzerland, before losing to Greece by 1-0 in the quarter-finals.
Zidane’s retirement came at a time when veteran players of France were retiring too. Without some of its key players, France struggled qualifying for the 2006 World Cup. As such, upon the request of the then coach Raymond Domenech, Zidane came out of retirement and was immediately reinstated as team captain.
Under Zidane’s captaincy, France showed spark and character, as the team slowly defeated its opponents to reach the quarter-finals against Brazil. France defeated Brazil 1-0.
Zidane’s penalty kick decided the semi-final victory as France defeated Portugal to reach the finals against Italy. The 2006 FIFA World Cup Final was the last match of his career. Zidane gave France an upper hand, just minutes after the start of the game, as he scored a goal at the penalty kick. However, heated argument and head-butting with Marco Materazzi earned Zidane a red card. He was not allowed to participate in the penalty shootout which Italy won 5–3.
Retirement & Thereafter
The 2006 FIFA World Cup final against Italy was the last match played by Zidane before his retirement.
Ever since his retirement, Zidane has regularly played for the Real Madrid Veterans team. He has also made several futsal appearances.
In 2009, Zidane was made an Advisor to the President Florentino Perez of Real Madrid. Along with with Jorge Valdano, General Director, and Miguel Pardeza, Sporting Director, Zidane served as the key decision maker on the sporting side of the club.
In 2010, Zidane served as the high-profile ambassador of Qatar's successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup. Same year, Zidane became a special advisor for Real Madrid, after a request made by coach for the former Real midfielder to work more closely with the team. Following year, he was made the club’s Sporting Director.
In 2012, Zidane started coaching the club’s youth academy, which was the first step towards his calling the shots from the sidelines of the field. Same year, he played the All Stars Match against Manchester United, which Real Madrid won with a 3-2 score.
Zidane has played quite a many games, not for winning or losing them but with the aim of charity and contribution. His first ever was the 2007 match for Keuydaroon children's AIDS charity, where he scored a goal and set up a second for his Malaysian teammate. The event collected a sum of $7,750 which was utilized for building two schools and 16- three-bedroom houses.
Following year, he participated in the fifth annual Match Against Poverty in Malaga, Spain. Though he did not score a goal himself, he was involved in setting up one for his teammate. The event is held with an aim to benefit the United Nations Development Programme and has lots of active footballers, other professional athletes and celebrities taking part in it.
In 2009, Zidane toured across Canada halting at Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. The proceeds from the event were given to UNICEF.
In the 2010 bi-annual charity event Soccer Aid, Zidane played for the Rest of the World team against England. Veteran soccer players such as Henrik Larsson, Kenny Dalglish, Teddy Sheringham, David Seaman and Alan Shearer were a part of the event. His team won the match by penalties after a 2-2 draw.
Zidane has recently been spotted at the 2013 charity match played at Old Trafford as part of the Manchester United Legends vs Real Madrid Legends reverse Fixture. The proceeds of the match were given to Manchester United Foundation.
Zinedine Zidane was born to Smaïl and Malika. He have four sibling, all elder to him. Originally of Algerian Kabyle Berber descent, the family resided in the northern Marseille suburb of La Castellane.
While his father was a warehouseman by profession, his mother was a homemaker. Unlike people in the neighbourhood, the Zidane family was a respected lot and lived a reasonably comfortable life unlike others who were involved in high crime and were basically, unemployed.
Young Zidane was introduced to the game of football at the tender age of five. Along with the neighbourhood children, he played the game at the Place Tartane, which was the main square of the housing complex.
It was since his early days that Zidane was influenced by Olympique Marseille players Blaz Sliskovic, Enzo Francescoli and Jean-Pierre Papin, who were his ultimate idols.
Zidane met his future wife, Véronique Fernández, while playing for Cannes in the 1988-89 season. The two married later on.
The couple has been blessed with four children, all sons, Enzo Alan Zidane Fernández, Luca Zinedine Zidane Fernández, Theo Fernández and Elyaz Zidane Fernández. Enzo, Luca and Theo are all members of the Real Madrid Academy.
He started playing football at the age of four. He got his first player’s license at the age of ten. He made his professional debut at the age of seventeen and won the World Cup at the age of twenty six and the European Championship when he was twenty eight.
He joined the Real Madrid club in 2001 for a then world record fee of 150 billion Italian lire. It was highest ever amount paid to a footballer for being transferred.
He came out of retirement to lead France in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. It was a fairytale finish to a high-strung career with France reaching the finals under his meticulous guidance, but not winning the same due to his absence in the penalty shootout as a red card was given to him.
He scored his first World Cup goal at the finals of the FIFA World Cup 1998 against Brazil. In the match, he scored two identical goals, both headers, leading France to victory. His outstanding performance at the match gave him a national hero status.
Zidane was honoured with the FIFA World Player of the Year award thrice in 1998, 2000 and 2003. Alongside this, he even won the FIFA World Cup Final Man of the Match awards, FIFA 100 Greatest Living Footballers award and FIFA World Cup Golden Ball. He was even a part of the team which won the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team and FIFA World Cup Dream Team.
Zidane won the Ballon d'Or, European Player of the Year award once in 1998.
He remains one of a handful of greats to win both the FIFA World Player of the Year/Ballon d'Or award.
Zidane won the French Player of the Year award twice: in 1998 and 2002.