zidane 2015 .

Brilliant footage of Zinedine Zidane v Liverpool Legends in 2015 proves he retired too early

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Fans of Zinedine Zidane will never forget the night of 9 July 2006.

It was the World Cup final between France and Italy and the stage was set for the midfield legend to bow out on the highest note possible.

The Frenchman, who had made up his mind to retire from football months earlier, had inspired Les Bleus to the final in Berlin. This was his moment to confirm his status as one of the greatest footballers of all time, right up there alongside Pele and Diego Maradona.

Zidane began the match by scoring arguably the best penalty of all time: an audacious Panenka past the legendary Gianluigi Buffon, which crossed the line after coming back down off the bar, in the seventh minute of the match.

But midway through extra-time, with the scores level at 1-1, the supremely gifted central midfielder let himself down with one of the most shocking moments in football history: *that* headbutt on Marco Materazzi.

The image of a dejected Zidane walking past the World Cup trophy was heartbreaking. His glittering career was supposed to end in glory, not infamy.

French midfielder Zinedine Zidane (C) wa

Materazzi’s slur was too offensive for Zidane to ignore and he reacted with a vicious headbutt to the Italian defender’s chest.

Even now, almost 12 years later, it’s still a huge shame that Zidane’s career ended on such a sad note. If only he’d opted to continue his career after that ill-fated evening.

Zidane could have played on for longer

Although he was 34 when he hung up his boots, there’s no doubt that he could have played on for a few more years.

Earlier in the tournament, Zidane has produced a masterclass against Brazil, outclassing Ronaldinho - arguably the best player in the world at the time - in one of the greatest individual performances of all time.

French midfielder Zinedine Zidane (L) vi

But his mind was made up before the World Cup finals in Germany and there was no turning back.

Video: Zidane v Liverpool Legends (2015)

There’s a fantastic video on YouTube of Zidane in action against a team of Liverpool Legends from 2015 which proves that the Frenchman could have played for much longer.

His highlights from the match are a joy to watch and while he’s obviously nowhere near peak-Zidane, the fact he was still this good nine years after retiring, aged 42, says everything you need to know about his inner footballing talent.

Watch the brilliant video here…

What a legend.

Despite how his playing career ended, Zidane is unquestionably one of the greats.

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