Zinedine Zidane is an unequivocal enigma, a proficient enigmatic genius, an irrevocable silent leader of men; a passionate robust self-motivated profiteer, an astute manipulator of reality, and a concise coordinator of time. A trickster to the profane; a magician to an adept. Not embroiled in one area of expertise, but decorated in many... To generalise Zinedine Zidane as one thing; is to ignorantly expel him of all other things.
Sir Alex Ferguson thought Zidane was a 'seal'!
Sir Alex Ferguson, not one for concealing his opinions, once blissfully discredited Zidane as nothing more than a 'performing seal', either in jealousy because he feared that he wouldn't be able to acquire his services anyway, or because these were his actual legitimate thoughts. Imagine what the successful Manchester United teams of old would have been like with the addition of Zinedine Zidane. Presumably, this dismissive idea was about Zidane in his earlier years, because Sir Alex Ferguson would later go on to say: "Give me Zidane and 10 pieces of wood, and I will win you the champions league."
This sometimes misunderstood entity is now a distant memory in the hearts, minds, and the souls of anybody who was fortunate enough to have watched him grace a football field. If only the beautiful memories of this dominating powerhouse, that have laid dormant in the silent echoes of retrospective crowds, could be separated out of the blowing winds and awakened once again, then our agonising misery would cease, and our severe heartache would be over - but was Zinedine Zidane ever really a footballer per say, or was he something else, entirely?
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Zidane was a conductor of an orchestra, a ballet dancer, a hypnotist, a magician, a general, a profiteer, a painter, an ice skater and an emperor of an empire. These are the exhaustible layers Zinedine Zidane has been hiding behind whilst masquerading in the guise of a football player.
The precisely elegant way in which Zinedine Zidane logically integrated his teammates in and around him was no dissimilar to a 'general' authoritatively coordinating his troops before an unavoidable battle. It was always critically thought out, yet, in no way was it selfish, and certainly not ulterior motivated, or deceitful to suit his own personal agenda, but extremely intelligent in the understanding that he needed his teammates (just as a 'general' needs his troops) for the overall benefit of his team's success... and that is exactly what they were: 'his' teams.
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To actively remove Zidane out of a team is like hoisting a designated driver out of a moving vehicle - disastrous! This would only be apparent with the masters of the game, otherwise any 'normal' player could just be as easily replaced. Are there any other players that you can think of that have the same effect when taken out of a team, other than the leading elite, such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez...? Obviously, these types of players in question bring you goals, but does the entire functioning of the team collapse if they are detracted?
Pele: "Zidane is the master. Over the past ten years there's been no-one like him, he has been the best player in the world."
Watching and listening to a football team, whether it be Marseille, Bordeaux, Juventus, Real Madrid or France, with 'Zizou' at the epicentre, was like tentatively watching and listening to an 'orchestra' performing in beautiful synchronicity to the swift hand motions of a diligent 'conductor'... Just like every 'Empire' needs an 'Emperor', every football team needs a Zidane! And without the necessary use of verbal linguistics, Zidane's purpose and demeanour reverberated through to his own society.
In the build up to the 1998 World Cup finals, before a ball had even been kicked, a France supporter was asked, "Do you think France will win the world cup?" They replied, "We will win it if Zidane plays like we know he can." This suggests that when Zidane does not play well, the team doesn't play well, either. Only when Zidane performs, which is more often than not, will the team perform, and this is why so many of the teams that he has played for have won countless accolades, again and again.
Contradictory to Zidane's infallible unselfishness and team orientated conscience, was his uniquely flawless - god-given - ability to run with the ball effortlessly at full pace, and then with no particular inclination or stark warning - abruptly slow down with it to the dictation of his own desires, thus mechanically slowing down the entire motion of the game in accordance to his own will, and to the detriment of the will of the people around him, while simultaneously navigating through an expansive sea of oppression, like a 'magician'.
I have stood witness to Zidane casually and lethargically move a player one way, as if to informally lead him into a false sense of security, and then pull him, quickly, the other way, like he was viciously altering his state of consciousness, and then slowly and mockingly back to the original way - with sophisticated movements of the ball with his feet and body; to the bemusement of his oppressor - like a 'hypnotist' controlling his subject. To couple these heroic body movements, and feints and shimmies - Zidane had every footballing trick in the book - from the roulette, which is by the way the best footballing skill that there is, (When done properly) to the Cruyff turn. Oh, and, by the way, it is the Zidane turn, and not the 'Maradona turn'.
His scrupulous rhythmical flowing motion as he effortlessly glides past and in-between player-after-player with the ball seemingly amalgamated to his foot, without being dispossessed, is like witnessing an ice-skater on an ice rink traversing in and out of people who are trying to catch him while they are wearing nothing but their regular footwear. All of these feats of pace, agility, controlled-movement, awareness, logical reasoning and critical interpretation would be expected from a diminutive ballet dancer, yet these attributes are contorted by a colossal 1.85-metre, man-mountain.
Franz Beckenbauer: "Zidane is unique. The ball flows with him. He is more like a dancer than a football player."
Quite often in football, one can distinguish how good a professional footballer is going to be by observing what their first touch is like. If a ball deflects off their shin every time it is played into them and rolls away from their possession, then you're probably not going to consider them to be particularly good. Similarly, if they control the ball relatively well, yet find themselves head on with an opponent who is ready to tackle them, then you still wouldn't really think that they were all that good. Conversely, if a player brings the ball down from the air and controls it and puts it in a direction where there is space and time away from direct opposition so that they can contemplate their next move, then you would consider them to be very good.
However, there is just something unbelievably profound about the way that Zinedine Zidane done it that differentiates him from every other professional footballer that has ever lived. It is like time slows down for him, and instead of having a split second to make a decision, he has a lifetime. He takes care of the ball like a father takes care of a new born baby. He caresses it like he is lovingly caressing the face of his beautiful wife... He feeds the ball to his teammates like he is feeding his children so that they can survive.... You can see this in the passion that he demonstrates.
Michel Platini: "Technically, I think he is the king of what's fundamental in the game, control and passing. I don't think anyone can match him when it comes to control and receiving the ball.
Zidane has won domestic cups and domestic league titles. Not to mention, the Uefa cup and the Champions League. This distinguished superstar has also won the European trophy and the World cup with his country. It doesn't stop there, he has won the Ballon d'Or and countless other individual awards. I don't believe that all these successes happened just because of happenings. I believe that Zidane prophesied these very things in his mind before they manifested into reality. He knows what he is going to do before he does it and this allows him to stay ahead of the game. People sometimes say that 'seeing is believing' but I think that 'Zizou' believes before he sees. Has there ever been a moment where you have thought about your dreams, and then they have happened?
Xabi Alonso: "What he could do with the ball was a dream for most of us."
Unfortunately, however, within this vast polarised world that we animate in there is always a negative to a positive, or visa versa, and with any undoubted genius there comes a fractured vulnerability concealed deep within the makeup of their very being which is always one spark away from igniting into oblivion. In the case of this particular genius that you have been reading about, it was never ever a spontaneous ignition, but a provoked one...
Lucius Annaeus Seneca: "There is no great genius without some touch of madness."
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