Zinedine Zidane is a living legend of football. He dazzled crowds throughout his career, winning a World Cup for France in the process. His story, told brilliantly by Marco Venanzi, Michel Pierret and Alex Nolent, in “Zidane” highlights just how special this footballing maestro was.
As a young boy Zidane often organized imaginary world cups with his friends that took place at the Place de la Tartane in Marseille, France. In the end, the winner would be awarded a trophy made in aluminium foil. In the trophy, the players would drop a few coins of 10 or 20 cents to make the reward more interesting.
His father had arrived in Paris from Algeria in the 1950s. After having met Zinedine's future mother, he settled down in Marseille. Growing up with 4 siblings and a father who did not earn much, Zinedine was not someone one could consider to be privileged, however, to this day, he insists that his childhood was a great one, with many friends whom he still sees on a regular basis today.
Call it luck or call it destiny, but it was that one day during a match with a local kick-about team called S.O Septemes that Zidane was spotted. The coach had given young Zinedine the role of sweeper, which was not exactly the boy's favourite position on the pitch. That day, Zinedine had made a mistake that normally would have been considered unforgivable. He had attempted to dribble around the opponent striker near the goal, and after losing the ball; he had given the opposition an easy goal.
Coming home from school one day, he entered the main room of his apartment to find his parents talking with a certain Mr Jean Varraud from A.S Cannes. This man had witnessed the events of the earlier match, and rather than thinking that the boy was simply not a good defender, he seemed to believe that Zinedine had a good technique. Mr Varraud was prepared to give the young boy a trial with A.S Cannes on the condition that he went to Cannes himself to live with a family who would take care of him. After a long discussion, his parents were convinced.
Varraud insisted that Cannes’ the first team manager, Jean Fernandez, should observe Zidane on a regular basis. After some time, Mr. Fernandez decided to introduce Zidane into the first team when he was barely 17-years-of-age.
He played his very first match as a professional on May 20th 1989. A.S Cannes was to take on F.C Nantes, both teams being mid-table as the season was drawing to a close. The match ended in a draw, with Zidane playing 12 minutes.
The 1991/1992 season for A.S Cannes ended in complete disaster as the club was relegated to second division. The Olympique Marseille and the Girondins de Bordeaux were interested in Zidane at the time. Playing for Marseille would have been a dream come true for someone like Zinedine, as he was unconditionally a fan of this team, and more specifically of Enzo Francescoli, Zidane's idol. In the end though, Marseille decided not to sign Zidane on account of him lacking speed. Zidane signed for Bordeaux during the summer.
On August 17th 1994, Zinedine Zidane celebrated his first international cap for the French national football team. Coming on as a substitute with France losing 2-0 to the Czech Republic. By the end of the match, Zidane had scored two goals to claim a draw.
At the end of the 1995/1996 season, and after a mediocre European cup campaign, Zidane signed for Italian side Juventus. After a tough beginning being far away from his family and friends, he managed to integrate himself quite well in his new team. In Tokyo, 1996, Juventus had won the Intercontinental cup by beating Argentinian side River Plate in the final. This was a special day for Zidane as on the other team was his idol, Enzo Francescoli.
After losing two consecutive Champions League finals in 1997 against Borussia Dortmund and in 1998 against Real Madrid, Zidane promised himself that the next final he played would be the day he brought a trophy home. That final came much faster than he had anticipated: on 12th July 1998.
France hosed the World Cup 1998. This World Cup had started off quite well for the team however; Zidane had not shown the best of his abilities, receiving a red card against Saudi Arabia and a two-match suspension. Zidane came back for the quarterfinal match against Italy. France defeated Italy on penalties and advanced through to the final after another victory of Croatia.
It was on 12th July 1998 that "Les Bleus" made history. France ended up thrashing Brazil in the final 3-0 with two splendid headers from Zidane in the first half and a goal from Emmanuel Petit late in the second. For the first time ever, the French were world champions. Zinedine later claimed the Ballon d'Or award that year.
After two underachieving seasons with Juventus, having failed to win the Serie A or the Champions league, Euro 2000 became Zidane's new objective and France were favourites to begin with.
The semi-final match against Portugal had gone to extra time after a 1-1 draw. A handball in the penalty box gave France the chance to advance to the final due to the golden goal rule. Zinedine had volunteered to take the penalty, while telling himself that putting the ball in the back of the net would put him directly in the European cup final. Without showing the slightest sign of hesitation, Zidane scored the penalty.
France had once again conceded the first goal in the final against Italy. They were 1-0 down until the very last minute when a strike from Sylvain Wiltord levelled the match. Once again, the match would advance to extra time. It was David Trezeguet who scored the golden goal for France from a beautiful left-footed volley into the top corner and suddenly, France were European and world champions.
In the summer of 2001, Zidane signed with Real Madrid to become one of the members of the Galacticos generation. At the end of that season, Zinedine scored a fantastic volley 25 meters away from goal to give Real Madrid their ninth Champions league trophy against Bayer Leverkusen. Zidane now had the one major title that was missing from his career, which was now complete, and to this day, he remains one of the most beloved person by the football fans of France.
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