The rumour had been doing the rounds for some time. When it was finally announced last week that Zinedine Zidane would hold a press conference in Madrid on Wednesday, April 26, it became clear that the Frenchman would announce his retirement from football after the 2006 World Cup. Arunava Chaudhuri looks back at the illustrious career of the gifted midfielder.
"Zizou" leaves the field
A day before the press conference Zinedine Zidane said in a TV interview on French channel Canal Plus on Tuesday evening: “It's my decision and it's final.“
On Wednesday he confirmed that at the Madrid press conference saying he would retire from competitive football, but only after playing at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. It was his last and final ‘goal’ on the football pitch.
"I have to listen to my body and I can’t carry on for another year," Zidane said, citing his club's poor performance as one of the reasons for his decision. "I think it is better to clarify the situation now," he added.
Zidane’s contract would have ended with the 2006/07 season, but he had asked his club to cut the contract short by a year. Real Madrid has agreed to do this. Zidane had also informed the club about his personal plans, so that they could search for alternatives. But is there anyone in his class?
“Zizou”, as Zidane has been nicknamed by the media and his fans, is the son of Algerian immigrants. He is a quiet person and a modest character and his team mates even say that he is shy. Throughout his career he let his football do the talking, which has found many admirers around the world.
Zidane is not just another footballer who is set to retire, Zidane was a class above the rest. His vision and technical capabilities are unparalleled, and when you saw Zidane you didn’t think you were watching football, but rather something like ballet. Zidane danced through defences, rather then working his way through. He was like a magician and it looked so easy.
Zidane is not only a great footballer, he has never forgotten his roots. As an immigrant in France, he has worked towards a multicultural society and also supports numerous charity projects, especially for handicapped children.
I will personally remember Zidane especially for two matches.
The first one was the 1998 World Cup final between France and Brazil on July 12 at the Stade de France in Paris, which he himself decided with two goals for France, the two most important goals of his career, as he himself later remarked.
The second one was the 2002 UEFA Champions League final on May 15, 2002 in Glasgow against German side Bayer 04 Leverkusen. The game was evenly matched at 1-1, when Zidane scored an exceptional goal. He got a pass from Roberto Carlos from the left and scored with a left-foot volley that beat Hans Butt in the goal. It was the deciding goal of the match and the last international title that Real Madrid has won.
Zidane fact file:
Full Name: Zinedine Yazid Zidane
Date of Birth: June 23, 1972
Place of birth: Marseille, France
Status: Married with Veronique and father of four sons
1996-1992 AS Cannes
1992-1996 Girondins de Bordeaux
1996-2001 Juventus Turino
2001-2006 Real Madrid
FIFA World Player of the Year: 1998, 2000, 2003
1998 European Footballer of the Year
As a French international:
1998 FIFA World Cup Winner
2000 European Championship Winner
Trophies at Juventus Turino (Italy):
1996 European Super Cup
1996 Intercontinental Cup
1996/1997, 1997/1998 Italian Serie A champions
1997 Italian Super Cup
Trophies at Real Madrid CF (Spain):
2001/2002 UEFA Champions League
2002 Intercontinental Cup
2002/2003 Spanish League champions