Magical Zidane’s glory years for Les Bleus | sports | Hindustan Times
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Magical Zidane’s glory years for Les Bleus

Sublime touches, dexterous dribbling with an alacrity to net seemingly impossible balls, Zinedine Yazid Zidane was France's gift to the football world.

sports Updated: Jun 03, 2010 01:08 IST

Few players leave a lasting impression on the minds of football enthusiasts the world over. Sublime touches, dexterous dribbling with an alacrity to net seemingly impossible balls, Zinedine Yazid Zidane was France's gift to the football world. But his violent outbursts often contradicted his otherwise placid character, leaving him with noted infamy to contend with.

Born to parents of Algerian descent, Zidane joined local club US Saint-Henri. It was during a junior league championship game that AS Cannes scout Jean Varraud noticed the prodigious youngster and signed him to what was to be his home for the next four years. He made his Ligue 1 debut with Cannes at 17 and scored his first professional goal in February 1991. He was then transferred to Bordeaux in 1992-93, and then to Juventus, helping them win two scudettos between 1996 and 1998.

Zidane then made his way to Real Madrid on a record transfer fee. He won many titles, including the 2002 Champions League and the La Liga in 2002-03.

Internationally, Zidance performed exceptionally. Les Bleus had Zidane as the playmaker, and he scored two goals in the final against Brazil. The team won the Euro 2000. But the 2002 WC was disappointing for an injury-plagued Zidane when France made an ignominious exit at the group stage.

Zidane came out of retirement for the 2006 WC, helping France to the title and earning himself the Golden Ball. He became the fourth player to score in two finals but was sent off in extra time for head-butting Italian Marco Materazzi. Zidane announced his retirement after France finished second-best to Italy in Munich.

A quadruple of domestic and international titles, Zidane is one of two players to have won the FIFA World Player of the Year thrice (the other being Ronaldo). He was also awarded the Ballon d'Or in 1998. If a footballer is gauged on his disposition on the field, Zidane presents near-perfection and will be remembered as a stalwart.