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Biography of Zinedine Zidane

Biography of Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane is, beyond a doubt, a biographer's delight. A classic rags-to-riches story interspersed with a lot of determination, raw talent, controversy that came in the form of racism and an illustrious soccer career that culminated in a flash of madness. Here's all you need to know about the legendary footballer, who the world hails as one of the best to have ever played the game.
Renuka Savant
Describing Zinedine Zidane can be done easily; all one needs is superlatives. But the man himself is the image of reticence, and shoulders his fame with a dignity that is not often associated with soccer players.
In a country deep-rooted in its traditional glory, Zidane stood out owing to his Algerian origins, emerging successfully to become France's most loved icon.
A soccer player remains in the limelight as long as he is a part of the playing eleven. But every once in a while, we get players like Zizou (as he is lovingly called in France), who are revered not only for their contribution to the game, but also for being the perfect role models and inspiring people for generations to come. 

Zinedine "Zizou" Zidane
Date of Birth: 23 June 1972
Nationality: French
Job: Soccer Player, Position: Midfielder
Awards: FIFA Player of the Year (1998, 2000, 2003), Ballon d'Or (1998)

Being no stranger to controversy, Zizou's life has been full of just that, right from his childhood spent in an impoverished neighborhood of Marseille to the infamous headbutting incident in the 2006 FIFA World Cup final that marked the end of his professional career.
"I am
first of all
from La Castellane
and Marseille."
Zidane was born in the Mediterranean port city of Marseille to Algerian immigrants, Smaïl and Malika on June 23, 1972. The family lived in La Castellane, a suburb home to several immigrants, thoroughly infamous for its dangerous living conditions. Zidane was the youngest of five siblings, and describes his childhood as "sheltered", which he still considers to be a privilege, knowing the kind of environment the family lived in.
He began playing soccer along with his mates at a young age, and obtained his very first player's license for a La Castellane local club. Unlike his friends, however, Zidane simply focused on the game with complete determination and refused to fall for other distractions.
Being a beur (as French children of Arab immigrants are called) usually involves a lifelong struggle to prove your affinity to the country you're born in as well as the country your parents came from, and playing soccer is perhaps the only means to do so. As the son of immigrants, Zidane was taught to work twice as hard to prove himself, as is the accepted way for them.
Zidane credits most of his success to his family and his immigrant roots. His life in the harshness of La Castellane prepared him to deal with the implications of living as a French person of Algerian origin in France.
Zidane is married to Véronique Fernandez, and the couple have four sons; Enzo, Luca, Theo and Elyaz.
"I have a need
to play intensely every day,
to fight every match hard."

As a young boy of 14, Zidane got the opportunity to play for a youth club in Cannes, where initial signs of his infamous temper began to appear. His early days here were spent completing punishments received for retaliating with anyone who derided his ethnicity. His debut with Cannes happened in 1989, but it took some time before he scored his first goal on February 8, 1991.
In the next season, he went on to play for Bordeaux under Rolland Courbis, a Marseillais like Zidane who recognized his genius. This is where he shifted the focus entirely on to his game, and began to play the trademark midfield combination with Bixente Lizarazu and Christophe Dugarry.
His move to Italian giants Juventus came in 1996 at a fee of 3.2 million pounds. His Serie A venture put him in the spotlight and he began to be recognized as the best midfielder in the world. He earned the title of Serie A Footballer of the Year twice.
By 2001, Zidane had established his reputation as a formidable footballer. His 75 million Euro transfer to Real Madrid created a splash in the media and among soccer lovers alike. Fans are still able to recall his famous goal scored with his weak foot that won Real Madrid the UEFA Champions League in 2002. The maiden hat-trick of his career came for Real Madrid in January 2006.
Zidane played his last match for Real Madrid on May 7, 2006, and his teammates wore shirts bearing the script ZIDANE 2001-2006 below the team logo in his honor.
"To be recognized
by a whole country
is incredible.
This is massive."

Zidane's first match for France was a friendly one against Czech Republic on August 17, 1994 in which he scored two goals.
The FIFA World Cup in 1998 was Zidane's first. The final was played at the Stade de France against Brazil, who put up a poor show right from the start, despite being favorites. Zidane, on the other hand, was brilliant, scoring 2 goals before halftime, leading France to a 3-0 victory. France now had a new icon.
The Euro 2000 was won by France, with two memorable goals by Zidane; the first, a free kick in the quarterfinals against Spain and the golden goal in the semifinals against Portugal.
France's 2002 FIFA World Cup campaign began on an unlucky note with Zidane suffering from a thigh injury that prevented him from playing in the first two matches. The French team struggled in his absence and he was brought in to play the third game while still being unfit. They were out of the World Cup at the league matches stage, earning them the infamous distinction of being the only champions to exit at the league stage, without scoring a single goal.
Zidane announced his retirement from international soccer after France's quarterfinal defeat against Greece at the Euro Championship in 2004.
Soon after, Zidane was coaxed out of his retirement after France started finding it tough to even qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2006. Zidane bowed to the request and was made captain of the team. His presence helped them qualify. Not only that, his penalty kick against Portugal in the semifinal helped France reach the final; this time against Italy.
"It is always the one who reacts
who is punished,
never the one who provokes."

The 2006 FIFA World Cup final is remembered by many around the world, including those who do not follow soccer avidly. His fans looked forward to their hero playing in what was expected to be his last outing as an international player. And Zidane did not disappoint. His penalty kick in the seventh minute earned his team a 1-0 lead.
In the 110th minute, Italian defender Marco Materazzi was seen running a few paces behind Zidane, tugging at his shirt. A few moments later, Zidane turned and headbutted Materazzi in the chest, causing him to fall on the field. Zidane was red-carded following this incident, and could not participate in the penalty shootout which Italy nailed by 5 goals to France's 3.
The repercussions of this incident hit Zidane severely. The only justification he offered was that Materazzi's comments were extremely offensive, which pushed him to react in such an extreme manner. He also refused to apologize for his actions so as to avoid giving the impression of having pardoned Materazzi's actions.
The people's reactions to this incident were widespread and varied. While some, like French President Jacques Chirac understood that Zidane reacted to provocation, TIME magazine viewed it as a symbol of Europe's age-old struggle to embrace cultural diversity.
FIFA suspended him for three matches thereafter, but Zidane had already announced his retirement from the game and participated in a three-day community program with children as part of his penalty.
Zizou became a part of the Real Madrid veterans' team after his retirement. He also participated in several matches for charitable causes. During his active days as an international soccer player, he used to be one of the highest paid.
He has been the face of several high-profile brands like Adidas, France Telecom, Lego, Orange, Audi and Volvic. He's also the first man to have modeled for Christian Dior.
Zidane appeared in an advertisement for Louis Vuitton along with fellow soccer greats, Pelé and Diego Maradona, which was nothing short of a coup even for the high fashion brand.
Today, Zinedine Zidane is living the life of a retired footballer, and is enjoying watching his sons take to the game he loves above anything else. He modestly acknowledges his achievements, as he always has; however, to the soccer-crazy French people, he may no longer be their God, but he still is their true hero.