Zinedine Yazid Zidane (French pronunciation: [zinedin zidan], born 23 June 1972) is a French assistant coach and sporting director at Real Madrid, and a retired footballer who played as an attacking midfielder for the French national team, Juventus and Real Madrid. Renowned for his elegance, vision and technique, Zidane was named the best European footballer of the past 50 years by UEFA, and has been described as one of the greatest players in the history of the game.At club level Zidane won La Liga and the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid, two Serie A league championships with Juventus and an Intercontinental Cup and a UEFA Super Cup each with both aforementioned sides. On the international stage Zidane won 1998 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2000 with France. Amongst his personal accolades Zidane has won the FIFA World Player of the Year three times, and the Ballon D’Or once. He was Ligue 1 Player of the Year in 1996, Serie A Footballer of the Year in 2001 and La Liga Best Foreign Player in 2002. He was awarded the Euro 2000 Player of the tournament and the 2006 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball. He retired from professional football after the 2006 World Cup.
Early life and career
Zidane is of Kabyle Berber descent. His parents, Smaïl and Malika, emigrated to Paris from the village of Aguemoune in the Berber-speaking region of Kabylie in northern Algeria in 1953 before the start of the Algerian War. The family, which had settled in the city’s tough northern districts of Barbès and Saint-Denis, found little work in the region, and in the mid-1960s moved to the northern Marseille suburb of La Castellane. On 23 June 1972, Zidane was born there as the youngest of five siblings. His father Smaïl worked as a warehouseman at a department store, often on the night shift, while his mother was a housewife. The family live a reasonably comfortable life by the standards of the neighborhood, which was notorious throughout Marseille for its high crime and unemployment rates.
It was in La Castellane that Zidane had his earliest introduction to football, joining in at the age of five in football games that the neighbourhood’s children played on the Place Tartane, an 80-by-12-yard plaza that served as the main square of the housing complex. In July 2011, Zidane named former Olympique Marseille players Blaž Slišković, Enzo Francescoli and Jean-Pierre Papin as his idols while growing up.At the age of ten, Zidane got his first player’s license after joining the junior team of a local club from La Castellane by the name of US Saint-Henri. After spending a year and a half at US Saint-Henri, Zidane joined SO Septèmes-les-Vallons when the Septèmes coach Robert Centenero convinced the club’s Director to get Zidane. Zidane stayed with Septèmes until the age of fourteen, at which time he was selected to attend a three-day training camp at the CREPS (Regional Centre for Sports and Physical Education) in Aix-en-Provence, one of several such footballing institutes run by the French Football Federation. It was here that Zidane was spotted by AS Cannes scout, and former player, Jean Varraud who recommended him to the training center director of the club.
Zidane went to Cannes for a six-week stay, but ended up remaining at the club for four years to play at the professional level. Having left his family at the age of fourteen to join Cannes, he was invited by Cannes director Jean-Claude Elineau, to leave the dormitory he shared with 20 other trainees and to come and stay with him and his family. Zidane later said that it was in living with the Elineaus that he found equilibrium.
Zidane made his professional debut with Cannes on 18 May 1989 at the age of sixteen in a Ligue 1 match against Nantes. He scored his first goal for the club on 10 February 1991 also against Nantes in a 2–1 win. After the match during a party for all the Cannes players, Zidane was gifted a car by Cannes chairman Alain Pedretti, who had promised him one the day he scored his first goal for the club. On the pitch, Zidane displayed extraordinary technique on the ball, offering glimpses of the talent that would take him to the top of the world game. In his first full season with Cannes, the club secured its first ever European football berth by qualifying for the UEFA Cup after finishing 4th in the league. This remains the club’s highest finish in the top flight since getting relegated for the first time from the first division in the 1948–49 season.
Zidane was transferred to Girondins de Bordeaux in the 1992–93 season, winning the 1995 Intertoto Cup, and finishing runner-up in the 1995–96 UEFA Cup in four years with the club. He played a set of midfield combinations with Bixente Lizarazu and Christophe Dugarry, which would become the trademark of both Bordeaux and the 1998 French national team. In 1995, Blackburn Rovers manager Kenny Dalglish had expressed interest in signing both Zidane and Dugarry, to which team owner and chairman Jack Walker reportedly replied, “Why do you want to sign Zidane when we have Tim Sherwood?” Also towards the beginning of the 1996 season, according to football agent Barry Silkman, Zidane was offered to Newcastle United for £1.2 million, but the club turned down the offer after watching him, claiming that he was not good enough for the First Division. In 1996, Zidane received the award for Ligue 1 Player of the Year.
After a series of consistently outstanding performances for both Bordeaux and France, Zidane had offers to join Europe’s top clubs in the spring of 1996, deciding on a move to UEFA Champions League winners Juventus during the close season. Zidane’s impact in Italy was immediate, and won the 1996–97 Serie A title and the 1996 Intercontinental Cup. He lost in the 1997 UEFA Champions League Final 3–1 to Borussia Dortmund when he was unable to make an impression against the close marking of Paul Lambert. The following season, Zidane netted 7 goals in 32 matches in the league to help Juventus win the 1997–98 Serie A and thus retain the Scudetto. In Europe, Juventus made their third consecutive UEFA Champions League Final appearance, but lost the game 1–0 to Real Madrid, a club Zidane would later join. In 1998 Zidane was named FIFA World Player of the Year, and won the Ballon D’Or. Juventus finished second in the 2000–01 Serie A, but were eliminated in the group stage of the Champions League, after Zidane was banned for head-butting Hamburger SV player Jochen Kientz. In 2001, Zidane was named Serie A Foreign Footballer of the Year for the second time.