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Who is Zinedine Zidane? - The French Legend.

Updated: Dec 12, 2020

Who is Zinedine Zidane?

Zinedine Zidane is a French national who has created an impressive legacy in European Football. As a player, Zidane was an attacking midfielder that built a name for himself as an aggressive offensive force. Over his seventeen-year senior career, Zidane scored 126 goals. Zidane spent his career playing for clubs in France and Spain and spent twelve years on the French national team. Throughout his career, Zidane racked up an impressive record. He is one of only eight players in history to win a Fifa World Cup, the Uefa Champions League, and the Ballon d’Or trophy.

After his impressive playing career, Zidane switched roles and began coaching. He has had a successful coaching career at Real Madrid where he has won a bevy of league championships alongside other honours. Zidane currently manages Real Madrid and continues to add to his already legendary legacy.

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The Life of a Legend

Zinedine Yazid Zidane was born in 1972 in Southern France. Commonly referred to as Zizou, Zidane was raised in La Castellane, Marseille by his mother and father. Zidane's parents emigrated from the Kabylie region of Northern Algeria to Paris in the early '50s. After experiencing economic hardships in Paris, Zidane's family moved to the more opportunistic Marseille for work. It was here that they had Zidane and his 4 siblings.

Zidane is Muslim and incredibly proud of his Arabic heritage. Although a proud Frenchman, Zidane often expresses his love for Arabic roots and was even a large influence on securing Qatar as the first Arabic country to host the FIFA World Cup in 2002. He credits his parents for his success and for keeping him on the right track in his youth despite the high crime rates in Marseille.

As a boy, Zidane loved to play football in the streets of Marseille. Zidane grew up idolizing legendary Marseille footballers like Jean-Pierre Papin and tried to emulate their style when playing in the streets. He was involved in neighbourhood games as early as five. It was there that he began to develop the skills that would eventually help him join Us Saint-Henri at the age of ten and move to the more established Septemes-Les- Vallons soon after. It was around this time that Zidane was scouted at a training camp hosted by the French Football Association by the junior team at AS Cannes.

While playing at AS Cannes, Zidane met his future wife Veronique Fernandez. After five years the two became married in 1994. Soon after they began their family. Zidane and his wife now have four sons. Enzo, Luca, Theo, and Elyaz Zidane are sure to follow in their father’s footsteps to create their own legacy in football.

Where it all Began – Zizou’s Legacy in Club Football

Zidane made his professional debut as a part of the first team for Cannes in 1989. It would be two years before Zidane scored his first professional goal. Both games were against Nantes. Zidane would help Cannes reach its first UEFA Cup tournament before being transferred the following season.

In 1992, Zizou was transferred to Bordeaux. It was here where Zidane established his midfield play that would become one of the tactical highlights of his career. Zidane's midfield presence became the focus of the Bordeaux offense and was also heavily featured on the French national team. During his four year career at Bordeaux, Zidane helped the club win the Intertoto Cup in 1995 and place 2nd in the UEFA Cup in 1996. Over four years at the club, Zidane scored 28 goals from the midfield position. It was at Bordeaux that Zidane won his first award of many. He was named the Ligue 1 Player of the year at the end of the 95-96 season making Classic Bordeaux football shirts from this period iconic of Zidane's early career.

Zidane made the move to Italy in the summer of 1996 and joined Juventus. Zidane made an immediate impact helping Juventus win the Serie A title and Intercontinental Cup in his first season. Zidane solidified his identity as the ultimate team player at Juve and by helping win a second Serie A league championship. Zidane's time at Juventus was quite prosperous. It was there that he won individual awards including his Ballon d'Or. Classic Juventus shirts from this year are highly desirable as it was Zidane's true break out season.

After five years and 24 goals at Juventus, Zidane made the switch to Real Madrid, where he set a record for the most expensive player transfer at the time. Zidane made an immediate impact at Real Madrid. His goal scoring was at an all-time high and his team play was phenomenal. Zizou helped Real clinch a Champions League final in 2002 and win La Liga in 2003. Zidane played his last season for the club in 2006 where he was the team's second-highest producer of goals and assists. During that season, Zidane scored his first hat-trick to end his season on a high.

An International Career

Throughout his career, Zidane was an absolute force on the French National Team. Zidane had played for France since 1988 but made his first appearance on the first team in 1994. Zidane played off the bench until 1996 when he made his first appearance during Euro 96. Zidane participated in his first World Cup in 1998 which was hosted in France.

Early in the tournament, Zidane received a red card that kept him from playing, but on his return, he began to dominate the midfield. After beating Croatia, France made it to the Final against Brazil. Zidane gave a phenomenal performance scoring two goals in the first half and was named the man of the match for France's first World Cup win. Classic France shirts from this world cup are some of the most collectible Zidane shirts in history.

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Zidane's success on the French National team continued in the new millennia with a European Championship win in 2000. Zidane put up two goals throughout the tournament and was named the Player of the Tournament by UEFA.

An unfortunate injury in 2002 kept Zidane from playing in the first two matches of the World Cup group stage. Without Zidane, France went scoreless. Despite his return, it was too late, and the French National team was eliminated from the group stage of the tournament.

In 2004 Zidane announced that he would retire from the French national team after a poor showing at the European Championship. However, Zidane did return to his role as captain in 2006 for the World Cup. Zidane was the key factor in the early stages of the tournament scoring goal after goal to keep France ahead. In his final game with the French National Team, Zidane scored an early goal to put his team ahead of their opponent Italy but was sent off in the second half for an erroneous headbutt. Zidane was still named Player of the Tournament.

The Trophy Cabinet

Throughout his career, Zinedine Zidane has added plenty of precious metal to his personal trophy cabinet. During the 95/96 season, Zizou was named the Bordeaux player of the year and helped Juventus lift the UEFA Supercup. In 96/97 Zidane’s midfield play helped Juve win an Intercontinental Cup and win an Italian Championship.

1998 was arguably the best year in Zidane’s long and storied career. During that season, Zizou and Juventus won the Italian Supercup and were Champions of Serie A. As a part of the French National Team, Zidane helped bring the first World Cup home to France. He was named Footballer of the Year, The Best FIFA Men’s Player, and won the highest prize in football, the Ballon d’Or. Classic football shirts from 1998 are iconic because of Zidane’s success.

In the year 2000, Zidane won a European Championship with France and was also named Best FIFA Men's Player for the second time.

Upon moving to Real Madrid, Zizou added to his trophy collection by winning his second UEFA Supercup and his first Champions League. During that time, Real Madrid also won the Spanish Supercup and the Intercontinental cup while Zidane secured his third Footballer of the Year award. In 2003, Real Madrid won La Liga and Zidane was named Best FIFA Men’s player for the 3rd time. Zidane’s final trophy was earned in 2004 when Real Madrid won the second Spanish Super Cup during Zidane’s career.


Famous Teammates

Zidane helped contribute to a lot of successful clubs that also boasted great talent. Throughout his career, Zidane shared a pitch with some of the greatest footballers in history.

Lilian Thuram

Zidane and Thuram played together on the French National Team. Both were integral parts of the 1998 and 2006 World Cups. As a defender, Lilian Thuram helped feed Zidane’s midfield attack. The two briefly crossed paths at Juventus as Thuram came on to the team as Zidane was on the way out.

Didier Deschamps

Another French football legend, Deschamps and Zidane played together on both the French National Team and for a period of time at Juventus. The two controlled the midfield in the games they shared and created the iconic style of play that one France the World Cup in 1998.

Laurent Blanc

Zidane and Blanc both played for the French National Team at the same time. Blanc is another French defender that was part of the 1998 French national team that won the World Cup. Most recently blank has been known as the manager for Paris Saint-Germain and before that as the French national team manager from 2010 to 2012.

Bixente Lizarazu

Lizarazu and Zidane shared a pitch on the international stage as teammates on the World Cup-winning French National Team. They were also teammates for the entirety of Zidane's time at Bordeaux. The left-back eventually moved to Bayern Munchen where he played against Zidane in the Champions League.

Alessandro Del Piero

Juventus legend Alessandro Del Piero played with Zidane during his stint at Juve. Zidane assisted Del Piero in his quest for goals. The two share a spot on the FIFA 100, the list of the most influential footballers.

David Beckham

Zidane shared a pitch with the English superstar David Beckham during their time at Real Madrid. In his final season, Zidane was second in scoring behind Beckham. The two collaborated on many goals during their time at Real Madrid.

Fabian Barthez

French National Football Team legend, Fabian Barthez was in goal for the entirety of Zidane's career with the team. The two played together to win a World Cup in 1998 and shared the title of the 2000 European champions. The World Cup winners continued to play together in the off years for the team and both had their final appearance in 2006.

Where is he now

After his incredibly successful career as a footballer, Zinedine Zidane began to coach. He began as the manager of Real Madrid Castilla, the lower league sector of the club. He coached in the lower divisions for two years before being called up to be the first team manager in 2016.

On the same day that Rafael Benitez was released from the job, Zidane was named the manager of Real Madrid. Five days later his team would start a very impressive season stint of football with a 5 goal win over Deportiva La Coruna. In another impressive feat for such a new manager, Zidane and his team defeated Barcelona in El Clasico ending Barcelona's 39 game win streak.

Later that year Real Madrid would go on to win the first UEFA Champions League trophy with Zidane at the helm. The team defeated Manchester city one to zero on aggregate to get to the final. In the final, Zidane and Real Madrid defeated Atletico Madrid in a penalty shootout to win. This victory made Zidane only the 7th player in history to win the title as both a player and as the manager of a club. He also had the honour to be the second player in club history to win the title as a player and a manager and the first French manager to win the title as a coach. All of that was accomplished in only one half of an actual season.

In his first full season, Zidane and Real Madrid began to dominate La Liga setting a 16 game winning streak record for the club. Later that year his club won the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup with a dominant game from Cristiano Ronaldo. Zidane set the record for the most consecutive matches without a loss for the club with over 40 games. That year ended on a high note as Zidane and Real Madrid won La Liga for the 33rd time in club history.

That summer, Zidane and his team defeated his former club Juventus to win a second consecutive Champions League. Real Madrid was the first club to do this and Zidane the first manager to win back-to-back years. He and his team would add to that total the following year by defeating Liverpool to bring the record to three consecutive wins.

Along the way, Zidane and his club won two Supercups and a second FIFA Club World Cup adding to an already impressive total of victories and trophies in such a short managerial career. In a somewhat rash move, Zidane resigned from the club’s management position five days after the team’s third Champions League Victory.

The club struggled to maintain its previous dominance without Zidane. Less than a year after his departure, Zidane returned to Real Madrid with a 3-year contract. Since his return, Real Madrid has won another league championship in La Liga and continues to add to its winning tradition. With Zidane at the helm, Real seems to play with passion and fire that brings them victory.

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Zinedine Zidane has had a legendary career over the past three decades and it looks like he is just getting started. Zizou's explosive midfield play seems to have transferred over to his managing career as he carries teams to impressive victories while breaking records along the way.

Despite a large number of red cards and questionable actions throughout his playing and managing career, Zidane is a crowd favourite and you cannot deny his ability to win. Match worn Zidane shirts are grails for some collectors and the market for collectible Zidane shirts is huge. His long and explosive career on the French National Football team has made him a hero in the country. Getting your hands on classic France shirts from when Zidane played can be difficult, but worthwhile when considering his impact on the team. He made club history on every team he has played on and still has the potential to enter the annals of managerial history.

There is no telling what the future holds for Zizou. Some predict that he may be the next manager to head the French National Team. For now, we can look forward to a few more years of the winning tradition that Zidane has come to be known for at Real Madrid.

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