The squad

All-star squad

Shirt number 19 French flag



Full name: Zinedine Yazid Zidane
Date of birth: 23/06/1972
Position: Midfielder
International caps: 108
International goals: 31
World Cups: 1998 - Champions
2002 - First Round
2006 - Runners-up
World Footballer of the Year: 1998, 2000, 2003
European Footballer of the Year: 1998
Clubs: Cannes
Real Madrid

Born in Marseille to Kabyle Algerian parents, Zidane started playing football at an early age and played his first French league game at the age of 17 for his first professional club Cannes. He scored his first senior goal later that same season, but Cannes is not a big club and trophies were non-existant. Moving to Girondins de Bordeaux after four years, Zidane led them to the 1995 Intertoto Cup (practically a qualifying tournament for European football) and to the final of the subsequent UEFA Cup, where they lost to Bayern Munich, gaining the attention of Italian giants Juventus, who paid £3million for him the the summer of 1996.

It is interesting to note that Zidane's international career began with a rejection from the Algerian coach, who thought the player was too slow. In 1994, he made his debut as a substitute for France when they were trailing 2-0 to the Czech Republic, and immediately made an impact by scoring a brace to earn a draw for his country. When France's superstar Cantona received a long suspension in 1995, Zidane was perfectly placed to became playmaker for his country, and never looked back. In Euro 1996 in England, France reached the semi-finals where they were beaten on penalties by the Czechs.

Zidane in action

At Juventus, "Zizou" was a star of Marcello Lippi's international team. They won Serie A twice (1997, 1998) and reached the UEFA Champions League final in those same years, unfortunately losing to Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid respectively. They did however triumph in the European Super Cup (1996), Intercontinental Cup (1996) and the 1997 Italian Super Cup.

The 1998 World Cup, in which France were hosts, started badly for Zidane when he was sent off in their second group game against Saudi Arabia and received a two game suspension. However, he was back for the quarter final against Italy, and played his part in helping France to the final against reigning champions Brazil. With the South Americans unusually poor (not helped by the pre-match Ronaldo fiasco), Zidane scored twice in the first half with near-identical headers from corners to set up France's 3-0 victory.

The French were unstoppable. In Euro 2000, Zidane again helped his team reach the final with inspired play and a number of important goals. He scored a direct free kick in the quarter final against Spain and a golden goal penalty in the semi-final against Portugal. France defeated Italy in the final, with another goldern goal this time from Trezeguet, to hold the two trophies simultaneously.

Zidane's volley

Zidane moved to Spanish club Real Madrid in 2001 for a world record fee of £44million. Here he played for a team known as the "Galacticos" along side an expensive array of big name players including Raul, Figo, Roberto Carlos and later Ronaldo and David Beckham. One of Zidane's greatest moments came in the 2002 European Cup final against Bayer Leverkusen, where he scored a spectacular winning volley, of almost perfect technique, in the 2-1 victory. (See the volley via my YouTube links page).

The summer ended on a sour note for Zidane though, as a thigh injury prevented him from playing in France's first two matches of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, which they lost 1-0 and drew 0-0 respectively. He was rushed back to play in the final group game, but, like his teammates, did not perform to his usual level, and France were eliminated without scoring a single goal.

In the 2004 European Championships, France started well, and Zidane scored a free kick and a penalty to come from behind against England in the group stage. France, however, lost to eventual winners Greece in the quarter finals and Zidane announced his retirement from international football. It was short-lived, as he returned as captain a year later, to help France with their qualification troubles for the 2006 World Cup - they ended top of their group.

Zidane's madness in 2006

In all at Madrid, Zidane won the 2002 European Cup, Intercontinental Cup and European Super Cup, the 2003 Spanish league (La Liga) and the Spanish Super Cup twice (2001, 2003). In April 2006, Zidane, having been plagued by injury all season, announced he would be retiring from all football after the 2006 World Cup in Germany. He received a standing ovation in his final home game for Real Madrid.

France struggled through their group games, with captain Zidane picking up cautions in the first two matches, resulting in a suspension for the third. He returned for the next round where he set up the second goal and scored the third in a 3-1 victory over Spain. In the quarter final, Zidane was man of the match, creating all sorts of problems for the Brazilians with his trademark dribbling, as France won 1-0. The semi-final against Portugal saw France win 1-0 via a Zidane penalty. In the final, against Italy, Zidane scored another penalty in the 7th minute, but the Italians equalised, and in the 110th minute Zidane had a moment of madness when he head-butted defender Materazzi and was sent off. Italy subsequently won the penalty shootout. Despite this indiscretion, Zidane was awarded the Golden Ball as best player in the 2006 World Cup.