Classical music, a beautiful painting, the delicacy of a ballerina’s dancing; this and many more is all you could think of when watching the French maestro at work.
Zinedine Zidane is considered by many as the best footballer France has ever had.
And how could you not?
Watching that volley against Bayer Leverkusen in 2002, his slow-motioned tricks that enthrall the defenders, his delicate control of the ball all blend to create a mental image of a perfect dance, accompanied by Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata playing in the background.
His spectacular career started at Cannes, where he played for four years. In 1992, Zidane moved to Bordeaux where he formed great partnership with Christophe Dugarry in midfield—a partnership that later became an integral part of the French national team.
In 1996, Juventus expressed desire to have a man of such talent in their team. They bought him for 3.2 million Pounds. Zidane spent some of his best years at Juventus before he moved to Real Madrid in 2001 for a record-breaking fee of 70.5 million Euros.
Apart from all the tricks, important goals, and assists at Real, he will be remembered most for the outrageously beautiful volley goal against Bayer Leverkusen in the final of 2002 Champions League final.
Real won 2-1 earning Zidane his first Champions League trophy and his first and last personal quadruple (domestic league, continental cup, and the two biggest international cups: the European and World cups).
On the international stage, Zidane made his debut against the Czech Republic in 1994. He managed to score twice to reduce a deficit of two goals pushing the match into a draw, 2-2.
Nevertheless, he was playing second fiddle to the legendary French captain Eric Cantona who was also playing on the same position. His chance to prove his worth came, however, due to some bizarre circumstances. France’s playmaker, Cantona, received a one-year ban from the pitch after having attacked a fan.
Zidane seized the chance and the Manchester United legend was not called again to play for his national team.
In 1998, in front of his own crowd, Zizou helped his national team win their first ever World Cup trophy. In the final against Brazil, Zidane scored two goals in one of the most convincing displays of France during the World Cup.
In 2000, the French playmaker kept on creating magic. Scoring a crucial free kick against Spain and a golden goal against the Portuguese in the semifinals of the European Cup, the Frenchman with Algerian roots ascended his country on the pedestal of supremacy.
France became the second country, after West Germany in 1974, to hold two major trophies simultaneously—the World Cup and European Cup trophies.
After suffering huge setbacks in the major competitions in 2002 and ’04, Zidane announced his retirement from football.
Current manager of the team Raymond Domenech managed to lure Zidane out of retirement though for the 2006 World Cup. Once again, the raw talent of Zizou shone throughout the tournament.
With two important assists, and a coolly execution of a deciding penalty in the semifinal, Zidane carried his country to yet another final where they had to face fierce rivals Italy.
France lost to penalties and after the infamous incident with Marco Materazzi, Zidane decided to call his final retirement.
Rich and glorious in history, Zidane’s career came to be considered as the best ever of a French player. With his unique style Zinedine Zidane marked football in a way that he may never be forgotten.
French supporters and fans of football will always remember him as one of the best players to ever play football, and the best French footballer of all time.