• Thursday, March 05, 2015

France 1998

The power of Zidane

Zinedine Zidane, almost single-handedly, won the World Cup for France in 1998 and lost it too eight years later. PHOTO: DAILY STAR ARCHIVE
Zinedine Zidane, almost single-handedly, won the World Cup for France in 1998 and lost it too eight years later. PHOTO: DAILY STAR ARCHIVE

Three-time winner of FIFA's World Player of the year, French playmaker Zinedine Zidane is perhaps the greatest footballing artist of his era, a man who won every major title on offer.
When he rose to send two bullet-like headers past Brazil's goalkeeper Claudio Taffarel in the 3-0 victory in the final of the 1998 World Cup in Paris, Zidane also won a place in French hearts forever more.
His performance in the final was redemption after he had been sent off in the group stage for stomping on a Saudi Arabian player. That showcased a familiar aspect of Zidane's character a fiery streak that helped him succeed but also hindered his greatness but endeared him all that much more to the people. His performance alongside his group of close friends, Emanuelle Petit, Bixenti Lizarazu and Christoph Dugarry led to press labelling them as the "Four Musketeers." And all four played an integral part as France bought home the trophy that had eluded them forever.
Zidane was born in Marseille in 1972 of Algerian parents and was just 16 when he broke into top-flight football along the Mediterranean coast at Cannes. Within two years he had broken into the national side, scoring twice on his debut against the Czech Republic in August 1994 to haul France back into a match they had been losing 2-0.
He was part of the Bordeaux side that enjoyed a run to the UEFA Cup final in 1996 before losing to Bayern Munich, putting in performances that inspired Juventus to pay four million dollars for him. There, Zidane tasted real success, winning two Italian championships, two Intercontinental Cups and the European Super Cup.
Zidane-mania reached stratospheric heights in 2000 as he inspired France to an unprecedented back-to-back success at Euro 2000. Real Madrid broke the bank with a phenomenal 63.6 million dollars bid for his services in July 2000.
Zidane further established his talents in the world stage when he scored a truly world class goal, a blistering left-footed volley, in the final of the 2002 European Champions League against Bayer Leverkusen.

Unfortunately the 2002 World Cup was a rare disappointment as an injury on the eve of the tournament meant he played just one match as France crashed out. Zidane went into retirement at the age of 32 after Euro 2004, but came out of retirement in 2005 to lead his country to the 2006 World Cup.
The World Cup Final in 2006 proved to one of the most memorable World Cup finals for reasons both good and bad. This was mainly because it showed the two sides of Zidane as he showed his leadership and talent when putting France ahead by scoring an early penalty. A Marco Materazzi equaliser led to extra time which is where the world witnessed the volatile side of Zidane as he headbutted Materazzi in the chest after a war of words with the Italian and was sent off for the offence and this also turned out to be the end of Zidane's international career. Zidane watched from the bowels of Berlin Olympic Stadium as his side lost the final on penalties.

Published: 12:00 am Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Last modified: 11:32 pm Tuesday, June 03, 2014

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