Zinedine Zidane is often considered the best footballer of his generation and one of the greatest all time. Zidane is known for his exceptional technique and unwavering determination. He was born on June 23, 1972 in Marseille, France. At 16 years of age Zidane broke through into the Cannes as one of the established eleven. His international debut in 1994 could not have been more forceful and during the 1995/96 season he enjoyed his first taste of success when Bordeaux reached the UEFA Cup Final. His performance confirmed that he was a worthy successor to France's legendary midfielder Michel Platini. In the summer of 96 Zidane was courted by many European top clubs. He settled on Juventus of Italy. He picked up his first silverware with his new club the same season when 'the Old Lady' defeated Argentine outfit River Plate to raise the Intercontinental Cup. This opening taste of silverware was soon followed by a pair of Italian titles, in 1997 and 1998. And that summer, he inspired France to their 1998 FIFA World Cup triumph in front of their own fans in Paris. He was awarded his first of three FIFA World Player of the Year. France continued their supremacy by winning the 2000 European Championship and once again Zidane was named FIFA World Player of Year.
One year later, Zidane signed with Real Madrid for a world record 73m and it has been well worth it to Real. His skills were unique, he provided his teammates with pinpoint passes and he scored stunning goals. Zidane's finest work was a supersonic volley that brought Real Madrid victory in the 2002 UEFA Champions League final against Bayer Leverkusen. Injuries prevented Zidane to play in the 2002 World Cup and in the Euro 2004, France fell short to the Champions Greece.
He first retired from international play on February 4, 2005, but after having his first long holiday in many years, he could not resist the lure of the national team shirt. He decided to help France qualify for the 2006 World Cup and then retire. He proved he still had it in him. France is currently in the quarter-finals!
Lots of things happened at World Cup 2006. There was Germany’s surprise run to the semi-finals, Ronaldo becoming the all time top scorer in World Cup history, Argentina playing some beautiful football and Fabio Cannavaro proving you don’t have to be tall to dominate in central defence. But if you only remember one thing from World Cup 2006, it’s probably Zinedine Zidane headbutting Marco Materazzi.
It’s unfortunate maybe, but there’s no way any other story tops the World Cup 2006 billing. The video of Zidane charging and Matrix falling didn’t just make the football news, it made news everywhere. Even those who didn’t care about the beautiful game briefly paid attention to see the crazy Frenchman knock down his Italian opponent.