Monday, November 15, 2010

Zinedine Zidane

By Daniel Rubin

Zinedane Zidane is a retired French soccer player. He was born in Marseille in 1972 and is of Algerian descent. Zidane played for various club teams throughout Europe and the French national team. He is regarded by many as one of the greatest soccer players ever (Zinedine Zidane). Professional soccer player David Beckham once stated that Zidane is the greatest player of all time (Zidane). While Zidane is known throughout the soccer world for his World Cup achievements as well as club soccer achievements, it is his World Cup appearances that gave Zidane wide international recognition. However, his World Cup appearances cannot summarize the brilliant soccer career of Zidane.

Zidane made his first World Cup appearance in the 1998 World Cup, hosted in his home country of France.France made it to the championship game against the defending world champions, Brazil. In the championship game, Zidane scored two goals in a 3-0 victory ( That game transformed Zidane into a national hero, and brought him into the international spotlight.

Between the 1998 and 2002 World Cups, Zidane won two FIFA World Player of the Year awards and signed the most expensive professional soccer contract in history with European powerhouse Real Madrid. In the 2002 World Cup, Zidane was injured for the first two games, and France failed to advance past Group Play (

2006 was Zidane’s final World Cup. He announced that after the World Cup, he was going to retire. Zidane led the French to the championship game against Italy. Prior to the championship game, Zidane was awarded the Golden Ball award, given to the most outstanding player of the World Cup. In what wound up being Zidane’s last game, tied 1-1 in overtime, Zidane was ejected for headbutting Italian player Marco Materazzi ( As seen in the video, Materazzi and Zidane exchanged words before Zidane retaliated with the heatbutt. A red card immediately followed, and Zidane left the field.

In an interview, Zidane apologizes for his actions, but says he does not regret what he did. "’It was inexcusable. I apologise,’ said the 34-year-old Zidane. ‘But I can't regret what I did because it would mean that he was right to say all that’” (I’m sorry). Through a press release, or public revelation, Zidane claims that Materazzi provoked him by insulting Zidane’s sister and mother. Zidane stated, “"You hear them once and you try to move away. But then you hear them twice, and then a third time. I am a man and some words are harder to hear than actions. I would rather have taken a blow to the face than hear that" (I’m sorry). Italy wound up winning the match 5-3 in a penalty kick shootout. Zidane was not allowed to participate in the shootout. The loss was very difficult for the French team, and to this day is still a sensitive subject with many Parisians.

The headbutt however, received international media exposure. It was replayed many times on sports news channels and spread all over the internet. Parity videos have become popular on YouTube, becoming somewhat of a media spectacle. While Zidane’s brilliant career wasn’t completely tarnished by this event, to the non-soccer fanatics, it is certainly something that is Zidane is remembered by. What is forgotten though, is that Zidane’s career was much more decorated that the one headbutt incident. He was a three time world player of the year, played 18 professional seasons, and had 106 international appearances ( Zidane is France’s fourth player with 100 or more international appearances (Zinedine Zidane).

The French team, being the World Cup runner up in 2006, entered the 2010 World Cup without Zidane, but with hopes of making it back to the World Cup Championship. However, the 2010 World Cup turned out to be an embarrassing disaster for the French. After being substituted out of the game during a 2-0 loss to Mexico during Group Play, French player Nicolas Anelka said some explicit words to Coach Raymond Domenech.Already seen as a controversial coach, Domenech responded by dismissing Anelka from the team. The dismissal led to the French team boycotting the following practice in support of Anelka. Different sources have hinted that this was a scandal of the French Football Federation (World Cup 2010: France squad).

Amongst the chaos, Zidane criticized the French team for “striking”. While Zidane said he didn’t always agree with Domenech, he still believes the players were out of line. According to The Telegraph, Zidane believed, “France's players should have trained Sunday instead of boycotting practice in protest at Nicolas Anelka's expulsion from the squad” (Odgen). The French team wound up with two losses and a draw, resulting in them finishing last in their Group, failing to advance to the next round (2010 FIFA World Cup). This was the second disappointing ending to a World Cup in a row for France. However, the implosion of the 2010 team might have helped to lessen the remembrance of Zidane’s ugly exit of international soccer. At a minimum, the 2010 soccer catastrophe put in perspective how a minor flaw at the end of Zidane’s last game doesn’t tarnish an otherwise brilliant career.

Since retiring from soccer, Zidane has remained active in the soccer community. In 2009, Zidane was named Advisor to the President of the Real Madrid soccer team. Zidane also actively supports many charities, and regularly plays in soccer charity events (Zinedine Zidane). Despite the ugly ending to his brilliant career, Zidane remains an iconic soccer figure to the people of France.

His footprint is molded into the promenade along the coast of Monaco, along with other French celebrities. While he received the most media exposure during his 1998 and 2006 World Cups, those two brief excerpts of Zidane’s career cannot begin to summarize the brilliance of Zidane’s career as a French professional soccer player.


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