Zinedine Zidane is a name many would be familiar with. Born on 23rd June in 1972, he turns 43 today. Fondly known as Zizou, the French national footballer is known for his raw skills, stunning goals, fitness levels, and also a fair share of controversies. His controversies stemmed from him being an Algerian immigrant living in France, because of which he often faced abuse.
Ultimately, he is the man you want on your team when you need to turn the game on its head. As Italy coach Cesare Maldini proclaimed: "I would give up five players to have Zizou in my squad." He was one of the fittest of his generation, he would rarely get injured and play a very high number of games each season. While he has broken many records, here are 10 interesting facts about the legendary number 10.
After he scored his first goal in his debut league match in 1991 for Cannes, he was awarded a car by club president Alain Pedretti.
In an online poll commissioned by UEFA on their 50th anniversary in 2004, Zidane was voted the outstanding player of the last 50 years.
His name was included in the World Soccer Greatest XI of all time in 2013 and in the Goal Hall of Fame in 2014.
His last game ever was the 2006 World Cup Final, which was an eventful one to say the least. Facing Italy, France was awarded a penalty in the 7th minute, which Zizou took with immense composure, which is really commendable considering he was facing arguably the best keeper in the world at the time – Buffon. What happened later in the game made everyone wonder if he really is as calm and composed as he looks. When opponent Materazzi provoked him, Zizou headbutted him in the chest, sadly getting sent off in his last game.
Said to be one of the greatest goals in the Champions League and also his career, Zizou’s volley (with his weaker foot) in 2002 against Bayer Leverkusen proved to be the winning goal in the final.
Zizou’s eldest son, Enzo, is 17 years old and plays for Real Madrid’s youth academy. Born in Lyon, he is eligible to play for France, Spain and Algeria at international level. The midfielder is named after Uruguay play-maker Enzo Francescoli.
Zidane has starred in a documentary titled ‘Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait’. The film follows the Frenchman over the course of an entire match between Real Madrid and Villarreal in April 2005.
Zidane is the first French manager in the 114-year history of Real Madrid. Taking over just this year, in the first two games as manager his side has scored 10 goals and conceded only once. The last time this happened was in 1928.
Appointed to the position of United Nations Goodwill Ambassador in March 2001, each year Zidane captains a team of stars against a side led by retired fellow idol and UN Ambassador Ronaldo (Brazil) in a match for charity.
He is one of the only two players (other being Brazil’s Ronaldo) to win the FIFA World Player of the Year three times.
Bonus fact: Did you know that he was in India earlier this month? Yes, he was in Mumbai for a day or two, promoting… a residential housing complex. Hope you caught a glimpse of the legend!