Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane (French pronunciation: [zinedin zidan]) (born 23 June 1972) is a retired French footballer. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. Zidane was the iconic figure of a generation of French players that won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship. After a brief international retirement, he returned to the national team in 2005 and captained France to the 2006 World Cup Final where he won the Golden Ball as the tournament's most outstanding player.
At club level Zidane won the La Liga and the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid, two Serie A league championships with Juventus, an Intercontinental Cup, and a UEFA Super Cup each with both aforementioned sides. He is, alongside Brazilian striker Ronaldo, the only three-time FIFA World Player of the Year winner; he also won the Ballon d'Or in 1998. He retired from professional football after the 2006 World Cup.

He currently holds the post of Real Madrid Director of Football, filling the spot previously held by Jorge Valdano
Zidane is of Kabyle Berber descent. His parents, Smaïl and Malika, emigrated to Paris from the village of Aguemone in the Berber-speaking region of Kabylia in eastern 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. So in the mid-1960s, they moved to the northern Marseille suburb of La Castellane where, on 23 June 1972, Zidane was born as the youngest of five siblings. Zidane's father Smaïl worked as a warehouseman at a department store, often on the night shift, while his mother was a housewife. The family lived in so small a tower-block apartment in the housing complex that he, his parents, three brothers and one sister had to sit down to eat in shifts. Yet, due to his father's steady job, the family lived a reasonably comfortable life by the standards of the neighbourhood, which was notorious throughout Marseille for its high crime and unemployment rates.
It was at 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. Thus, even after he joined school, while he did practise Judo attaining a green belt and indulge in skateboarding and bicycling, football remained his greatest passion.
This passion was turned into a career when 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 Valons when the Septèmes coach Robert Centenero convinced the club's Director to get Zidane.

Zidane stayed with Septèmes till 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 Jean Varraud who recommended him to the training center director of the club, Gilles Rampillon.
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, the youngster 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 seventeen in a Ligue 1 match against Nantes. He scored his first goal for the club on 8 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. 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 coach Ray Harford had expressed interest in signing both Zidane and Dugarry, to which team owner Jack Walker reportedly replied, "Why do you want to sign Zidane when we have Tim Sherwood?"

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