It’s already 50 years for Zinedine Zidane. Or rather, it’s only been 50 years for Zinedine Zidane, who has already made enough merits to establish himself as one of the greatest figures in football history. He has fifteen titles as a player, including a Champions League and a World Cup with the French national team. Perhaps he is the greatest footballer of all time in his country. And he did not stop there: he also triumphs as a coach and already has 11 Olympic laps from the other side of the lime line.
Zidane celebrated his birthday with an intimate interview with the French newspaper L’Equipe, in which he reviewed his career and was even encouraged to talk about the possibility of being PSG’s next coach. But he also told where the 1998 Ballon d’Or is, his weakness for Diego Maradona and even aired a nice anecdote with Enzo Francescoli in the 1996 Intercontinental Cup, when he faced River with Juventus.
“Never say Never. Especially when you are a coach today. When he was a player he could choose and go to almost all the clubs. As a manager, there are not fifty clubs that he can go to. There are two or three possibilities. If I go back to a club it’s to win. I say this in all modesty. That’s why I can’t go anywhere,” said the Frenchman when asked about the possibility of directing Olympique de Marseille or Paris Saint Germain.
Zidane is the main target of the PSG leadership. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)
And it is that Zidane is very identified with Marseille, a club of which he is a fan, and to which he was linked on more than one occasion. And just as he came to be associated with the cast that the Argentine Jorge Sampaoli directs these days, there was also a lot of talk about the possibility that he replace Didier Deschamps in the French National Team, once the Qatar World Cup for which he less and less.
In relation to the chance of being the next DT of the selected bleu, Zidane was much more forceful, and remarked: “Of course I want to. I hope to be one day. When? It does not depend on me. I want to close the circle, I’m not done with the French team. It is the most beautiful thing there is and it would be everything to me.”
Deschamps and a legacy that would remain in the hands of Zidane. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)
Zidane remembered his idols
“At 14, Maradona captivated me. I still enjoy the 1986 matches today. Not just pictures. The matches. Everyone remembers England and his two extraordinary goals, but there is also Argentina-Belgium. Splendid. It’s unbelievable what he has done. Maradona has done on the pitch”, launched Zidane, who on more than one occasion showed his devotion to Diego.
But just as he surrendered once again at the feet of Maradona, the native of Marseille could not help but talk about Francescoli, his greatest idol. If there is something that Zidane never hid, it is his fanaticism for the Uruguayan, whom he admires to the point that one of his sons, the one who plays in Ligue 2, is called Enzo. That is why it was not surprising to remember an anecdote from that Intercontinental Cup that he won with Juventus with River’s manager on the other side of the field.
Francescoli and Zidane, hand in hand at an Adidas event.
“The technique with his outside-inside, inside-outside contacts was lacy. I think I somehow came to resemble him. Technically, anyway, Enzo was majestic. In the 1996 Intercontinental final he brought me his jersey at the end despite the defeat. That match, which would be the only one in which they would face each other, ended with a 1-0 victory for the Vecchia Signora thanks to a solitary goal from Alessandro Del Piero.
The chapter of the header to Materazzi, and his time with the French team
With the French national team, Zizou played 108 games, scoring 31 goals and providing 29 assists. In addition, he entered the great history of France by shouting champion in the 1998 World Cup and in the 2000 European Championship. The latter, associated by Zidane himself with the best football moment of his career. Unfortunately, his career in the national team did not end in the best way.
The story is more than well known. Final of the 2006 World Cup. France was looking to defeat Italy to win the second World Cup in its history, once again at the hands of Zinedine Zidane, but the illusion was extinguished in a second. Marco Materazzi provoked the midfielder who at that time defended the colors of Real Madrid. The Frenchman reacted in the worst way, with a header to the chest of the Italian defender.
Zidane starred in one of the most controversial expulsions in World Cup history. (Photo by JOHN MACDOUGALL / AFP)
Zidane was sent off by Argentine referee Horacio Elizondo and everything was decided on penalties, where Italy was crowned once again. Much was said about that episode which, according to many, cost France the World Cup. Years later, the Frenchman clarifies it: “That day, my mother was very tired. I had my sister on the phone several times a day. I knew that she was not well, but that it was not very serious either. He did not tell me about my mother, but he insulted my sister, who was with my mom at the time.”
And just as he explains that he became concerned about his mother’s health hours before playing a final of that caliber, the importance of family for Zidane is clear when it comes to talking about trophies. The Frenchman indicated that he has no replica of the titles he came to win both at club and national level, and explained that the few memories he has -the Ballon d’Or and some of his shirts, among other things-, are in the maternal house.
His return to Real Madrid
After a great stint at Real Madrid, Zidane thinks about his future. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)
To close the interview, Zidane was concise and talked about his successful first stage as coach of Real Madrid, which could not be overshadowed by a not-so-positive second step. “Winning the Champions League is never luck. It’s hard work, and even more so if you win it three times in a row. I worked like crazy. My players believed in me and I believed in them. When I win, I’m not surprised because I gave it my all,” he assured.
The closing of the interview, on the other hand, had to do with Zidane’s 50th birthday, who still seems to have a lot to give in football. “Life goes on. I’m still a big kid in my head. I want to enjoy everything and I love my life. I’m an outlier, and I do what I feel like when I feel like it. If you listen too much, if you’re told too much around you, you’re thinking and there is a possibility that you screw it up. I do everything with my heart and it goes well, “he closed.