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Yellow card could end Zizou era

The greatest-ever French player have played his last game ever on Sunday.

india Updated: Jun 19, 2006 15:41 IST

Zinedine Zidane, perhaps the greatest French player of all time, may have played his last game ever.

The legendary midfielder was yellow carded by Mexican referee Benito Archundia in France's 1-1 draw with South Korea on Sunday, meaning that he will miss France's last group game against Togo on Friday.

Les Blues must win the clash to have any chance of progressing to the last 16 of the World Cup.

Zidane, who will be 34 on the day of the Togo game, has said he will retire after this World Cup, following an injury-plagued season with Real Madrid.

The world's most expensive player since his 66 million euro ($81 million) move from Italian side Juventus to Real Madrid in 2001, Zidane was booked on Sunday after he barged into a Korean when the ball was dead. In France's first game he was shown a yellow card for taking a free kick too quickly.

Under FIFA rules a player who picks up two yellow cards is automatically suspended for the next match.

"It's a shame for Zizou but the refereeing has been a bit strange in this tournament," said France coach Raymond Domenech.

Zidane retired from international football after France were knocked out by Greece in the 2004 European Championships quarter- finals. But after a public outcry in France he returned when it looked as if France were not going to qualify for the Germany World Cup.

South Korea's Dutch coach Dick Advocaat said after Sunday's match: "There's only one Zidane. He was a truly world class player. I have only the utmost admiration for him. He was a truly great player and person."

Zidane, born of Algerian parents in Marseille, started his career with French side Cannes before moving to Bordeaux. Juventus signed him after he had inspired Bordeaux to a UEFA Cup defeat of Juventus but after two Italian league titles he moved to Real Madrid's galaticos' side.

Zidane has been voted three times FIFA's World Player of the Year and led France to victory in the 1998 World Cup when he headed two goals in the 3-0 win over Brazil in the final. Two years later he led Les Blues to the 2000 European Championship.

In 2002 he scored the winner as Real Madrid won their ninth European Cup final against German side Bayer Leverkusen in Glasgow.