Zinedine Yazid Zidane, popularly known as “Zizou”, is a former professional French football who played as an attacking midfielder in the juniors teams of the France and eventually in the core national team for a very long period. He also played for the clubs like Cannes, Bordeaux, Juventus and Real Madrid, and brought laurels for each of them.
His elegance, swiftness and exceptional ball control made him probably the best of his time.
He is decorated with Legion of Honour bestowed by French Government and National Order of Merit by Algerian Government for his remarkable career.
Born on 23 June 1972, Zidane is of Algerian origin but was raised in Marseille, France. He began playing for the local club, US Saint Henri, at the age of nine. In 1983, he switched to another club, SO Septemes-les-Vallons, and spent three years in their youth setup. He was then picked by the youth academy of Cannes for another three years.
In 1989, Zizou earned his first professional contract by Cannes and made his debut in the French first division game against Nantes. In his first full season with Cannes, the club secured its first ever European football berth by qualifying for the UEFA Cup after finishing fourth in the league. He made 61 appearances in his first three seasons for the club and scored six goals.
In 1992, Zidane became a part of Bordeaux and it was there that he began to attain international recognition. Some of the ecstatic moments of him in the club were, winning the 1995 Intertoto Cup after beating Karlsruhe and finishing runner-up against Bayern Munich in the 1995-96 UEFA Cup. He played in 139 games for Bordeaux and scored 28 goals.
In 1996, Zidane was signed by the then current champion of UEFA, Juventus, for a five-year contact. Zidane's impact in Italian club was immediate, as he was oftenly instrumental in the 1996 Serie A title and Intercontinental Cup 1996. He scored seven times in the 32 matches and the club retained their title of Serie A even in the following season. He played in 151 games and scored 24 goals for the club in his tenure. He was twice named Serie A Foreign Footballer of the Year.
In 2001, Zidane joined Real Madrid for a world record field of 150 billion Italian lire for a four-year contract. In his very first season, Zidane scored the very famous match winning volley hit against Bayer Leverkusen in 2002 UEFA Champions League final. The voyage of glory went on in the next season as Madrid won the La-Liga 2003.
In 2004, he was declared as the best European footballer in the history of UEFA. In 2006, he scored his maiden hat-trick, against Sevilla, and ended the season as the second highest goal scorer, only after Ronaldo.
Zidane started his international career in 1988 in U17 team of France. He was prolific and scored once in the four matches he played. He continued to play in the junior national teams till 1994 and earned his first cap with France on August 17, 1994, in a friendly against Czech Republic. He scored two goals in a 2-2 draw in his debut match.
Zidane was exceptional since his early days. He scored in both penalty shootout in the quarter and semifinals in the Euro Cup 1996. However, he became a celebrated national hero only after his two goals in the 3-2 victory in the 1998 FIFA World Cup against the then champions Brazil.
He had extreme contributions in the France’s victory in the Euro Cup 2000 and was adjudged Player of the Tournament. Zidane was also the spine of France in FIFA World Cup 2002, 2006, and Euro 2004.
He played his career’s last professional assignment with Real Madrid in 2006, against Villarreal. He scored in a 3-3 draw in his farewell match.
His last international match was the final of FIFA 2006 World Cup. He scored a goal in the 7th minute of the match and put France in the driving position. However, he was penalised with red card for his infamous headbutt on Marco Materazzi and France lost to Italy in the penalty shootout by 5-3.
In June 2014, Zidane was made the coach of Real Madrid’s B team, Real Madrid Castilla, for a two-year tenure.
In 2016, he was bestowed with more intense duty- managing Real Madrid. Under his regime, Madrid set a new record of 16 consecutive La-Liga victory. He also led the team in the 2016 and 2017 UEFA Championship, 2016 FIFA Club World Cup and 2017 UEFA Super Cup victory. He was awarded as the Best FIFA Men’s Coach in 2017.