One of the best midfielders the game of football has ever witnessed, Zinedine Zidane turns 48 today. Zizou, as he is popularly known, had to travel a long way to become who he is today. The path was neither easy nor joyful.
Let’s have a look at the story which started on the streets of Marseille, and have witnessed the gloriest moments of Football through the years.
The Beginning of Zizou’s story
As Zinedine Zidane turns 48, let’s look at where it all started for the Frenchman. Zidane was born on June 23, 1972, in La Castellane, a northern suburb of Marseille, France. His father Smail Zidane and mother Malika Zidane were Algerian migrants. His neighbourhood was highly crime-ridden, also known for unemployment and high suicide rate. He was the youngest among five siblings, who were being raised in a not so wealthy family.
As a child he was introduced to football, when he used to play with the local boys on the street, slowly preparing himself for the greater stage. It didn’t take long to attract people by his game and he was registered at US Saint-Henri Football Club in 1981. Being of an Algerian origin, he was bullied by his teammates and opponents at that time which probably made him more strong and determined. Later he played for SO Septemes-Les-Vallons from 1983-1986 and joined Cannes in 1986. Zidane debuted for the Cannes first team at 17 and scored his first senior-level goal at the age of 19, which was just the first of many.
In 1992, he was signed by Bordeaux for a transfer fee of €7.00m, which was pretty high for such a young player at that time. This is the time when he started to draw attractions of the scouts from the big clubs around the world
Climbing the peak
After playing 4 seasons at Bordeaux, Zidane finally made his way outside of France and started playing for one of the biggest clubs in European football, the Italian giants, Juventus. From 1996, Zidane started playing in the black and whites for The Old Lady, where he would win back to back Serie A. During his time at Juventus he also won the Ballon D’or in 1998, and won the World Cup for his country in the same year, clinching a victory over the mighty Brazil side in the final. In the final, he not only ruled over Brazil midfield for the entire game but also scored two goals in a 3-0 victory.
At this time Zidane was already regarded as one of the best-attacking midfielders of that time and he delivered brilliant performances whenever he came to the field. He was one of those few players who didn’t score too many goals but dictated the match with his brilliance and create the chance for other players to score. With the ball on feet, Zidane could do almost anything. Running through the tiniest space between opponent defenders, controlling the ball with pure elegance, shooting from outside the box, he could do everything. He always knew the positions of his teammates and the opponents, and he always used to find a path to pass the ball to the correct person at the correct time, which would eventually lead to creating a chance or scoring a goal for his team.
“When Zidane stepped onto the pitch, the 10 other guys just got suddenly better. It is that simple. It was magic. He was a unique player. He was more than good, he came from another planet. His team-mates became like him when he was on the pitch.”Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Zidane
By this, you can probably imagine how good he was.as a player. Zinedine Zidane turns 48 today, so it is evident many of the young football enthusiasts have missed seeing him in action.
Zidane’s love story with Real Madrid
Although Zidane lost two UCL finals for Juventus, he moved to Real Madrid in 2001, where he not only won his only UCL title in his career but also the entire world witnessed arguably the best goal in UCL Final from him against Bayern Leverkusen in UCL Final 2002.
Back then, Real Madrid’s newly elected president Florentino Perez was aiming to build his Galactico team for the Los Blancos, and Zidane was his dream signing. He signed Zidane for the record transfer fee at that time and from the very beginning of his Real Madrid chapter, Zizou became a fan favourite.
In UCL final 2002, when the match was 1-1, Roberto Carlos crossed the ball towards the edge of the box where Zidane was waiting. He had very few seconds to look at the ball and measure the distance from the goal. Zidane didn’t even wait for the ball to land, He kicked the flying ball with a strong half volley and struck the ball on the back of the net. This was the winning goal for Real Madrid and Zinedine Zidane was the Man of The Match.
This was one of many of his match-winning performances for Real Madrid. Eventually, he retired from club football in 2006, after a glorious five years spell at Real Madrid. In FIFA World Cup 2006 he won the Golden Ball at the age of 33. His performance against an all-star Brazil in Quarter Finals is another brilliant display by him that would be discussed for decades.
The love story of Zidane and Real Madrid didn’t end after his retirement. He held the position of the advisor of Florentino Perez, Real Madrid president and later started his coaching career at Real Madrid Castilla. In 2016 he took the duty of the Manager of Real Madrid senior team and after that, the world witnessed three back to back UCL victories by Real Madrid under his management. He also led Real Madrid to win La Liga after five long years in 2016/17. The story of Zidane and Real Madrid is one of the greatest in Football world, he joined at Real Madrid as the most valuable player in the world, gifted many victories to the club, retired there and later came back as a Manager to gift even more victories. As Zinedine Zidane turns 48 today, his side sits at the top of La Liga currently.
“A true artist. What he could do with the ball was incredible. Only Maradona could do the same. Zizou was also a player capable of rising to the occasion at important moments, and deciding games.”Marcel Desailly
The journey from the crime-ridden streets of Marseille to become one of the greatest Footballer in the world was full of events. From being bullied by his French teammates because of his Algerian origin to be regarded as the Greatest Footballer of France, Zinedine Zidane turns 48 today. He definitely has seen a lot and overcame every barrier. He is currently the Manager of Real Madrid CF and hopefully, there are many more achievements to come for him.
As Zinedine Zidane turns 48, what are your thoughts about the Frenchman? Let us know in the comment section below!