In the summer of 1998, France went euphoric after winning the world cup for the first time. In doing so they defeated a Brazilian team full of starts like Ronaldo, Rivaldo and others. One player was instrumental in helping France. We know him as Zinedine Zidane, Zizou, the man who finally delivered Les Bleus World Cup dream.
In front of a million people gathered to celebrate their triumph at the Champs-Élysées, his face was beamed on to the Arc de Triomphe. “Merci, Zizou,” it read.
Yaz, the Kabayle kid
Zidane is known as a shy, modest, humble, and proud of his family roots in the Kabylie region of Algeria. Zidane was born in Marseille, France in 1972 and began his career as a youth player for the local team, Cannes. Growing up in the suburbs of Marseille, they called him Yaz as a boy. A second-generation Algerian immigrant, he grow up in a place where unemployment was high and opportunities were low.
He quickly made a name for himself as a talented midfielder and was signed by Bordeaux in 1992. In 1996, he joined Juventus for a then-world record transfer fee of $15 million. During his time with the Italian club, he won two Serie A titles and the UEFA Intertoto Cup.
Becoming a football legend
Zidane’s international career with the French national team was equally successful. He was a key player in the team that won the 1998 FIFA World Cup and the 2000 European Championship.
In 2001, Zidane made a move to Real Madrid for a transfer fee of $66 million, which was a world record at the time. He played for Real Madrid for five seasons, winning the UEFA Champions League twice and the La Liga once. He also helped lead the team to the final of the Champions League in 2002.
He also played in the 2006 World Cup, which was his last international tournament before retiring.
One of the most iconic moments of Zidane’s career came in the final of the 2006 World Cup, when he was sent off for headbutting Italian defender Marco Materazzi in the chest. Despite the controversial incident, Zidane’s career is still remembered for his exceptional talent, vision and skill on the field.
After his retirement in 2006, Zidane returned to Real Madrid as an advisor and then as the assistant coach. In 2016, he was appointed as the head coach of the team and led the team to win three consecutive Champions League titles and one La Liga title.
Zidane continues to be one of the most respected and admired figures in the world of football. His technical skills, vision, and elegance on the field have made him one of the greatest players of all time. His success as a coach of one of the biggest clubs in the world have cemented his legacy as one of the all-time greats in the sport.
Zidane was a social phenomenon, his role in France’s World Cup win and what that meant for the country both in cultural liberation and sporting triumph became known as L’effet Zidane – the Zidane effect. He transcended sport, race and religion, artists painted the playmaker’s face on huge street murals and he was voted above Michael Jordan as the world’s greatest athlete at the time.