By Lewis McKenzie
Making a mark on the big stage with Juventus and France
Having began his career in France playing for Cannes and Bordeaux, Zidane made the move to Italian giants Juventus in 1996. There he would be an ever present over a five year period, winning the Serie A, the UEFA Super Cup, the Intercontinental Cup and the Supercoppa Italiana, all within his first year there. He would go from strength to strength and was named FIFA World Player of the Year, as well as winning the Balor d’Or and the World Cup in an excellent 1998. Further International success would also come in 2000, with France adding to their World Cup success with victory in the European Championships.
Despite signing a new contract at Juventus to take him up to 2005, envious eyes across Europe were cast upon Zidane and a move was soon to be on the horizon.
Signs for Real Madrid in world record deal
In the summer window of 2001, Real Madrid paid £44 million to bring the French midfielder to the Bernabeu for a world record transfer fee. Club President Florentino Perez said at his unveiling, “Real Madrid was recently voted the best club in the world by FIFA and for that we must have the best players in the world. Zidane is one of those and we have no doubt that he will shine even more in Madrid than previously. Next year we want a great team for our centenary so that the fans can be both entertained and enjoy the football. We are building the Real Madrid of the 21st century. The arrival of Zidane is good for all Spanish fans who have the right to see the best players so that the Spanish league can be the best in Europe”.
True to his word, Perez continued to build his Real Madrid side, with Zidane a key part of a team termed as the “Galacticos”.
Scores a wonder goal in Champions League Final
It has been seen by football fans time and time again, yet never gets boring. In the match at Hampden Park, Real Madrid came up against German side Bayer Leverkusen. Roberto Carlos had made a run down the left wing, chipping the ball over to Zidane, before the midfielder spun and volleyed it home from the edge of the box to score the winning goal for his side and deliver the Champions League trophy to the cabinet in Madrid. A truly spectacular goal.
After scoring a terrific, Panenka-style penalty kick that bounced down across the line from the underside of the bar, Zidane’s match was to finish early after the red mist descended and he decided to headbutt Italy defender Marco Materazzi in the World Cup Final. Football fans everywhere were shocked as the French icon walked off the pitch in despair, in his final act in a game of football before retirement. The headbutt has been talked about as much as the full time result, a victory for Italy, in a game overshadowed by Zidane’s moment of madness.
Named as Real Madrid manager
Following the departure of Rafa Benitez, Real looked towards their legendary player to take over. Having been assistant to Carlo Ancelotti and then the Castilla manager from 2014, Zidane had built up some coaching experience at the club already. Despite this, the appointment came as something of a surprise to many, with other, more experienced candidates mentioned such as a potential return for Jose Mourinho.
It is still early days in the managerial career of Zidane and Real are not known for being patient with their managers. However, early signs have been good for Zizou and he will hope that he can have just as much success at the club as he did as a player.