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Zidane expresses faith in Juve recovery

sports Updated: Jan 22, 2010 19:32 IST

AFP
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Former France captain Zinedine Zidane has given his backing to under-fire Juventus coach Ciro Ferrara, telling him to keep calm.

Zidane graced the black and white shirt of the Old Lady of Turin for five years from 1996-2001, winning two Serie A titles and appearing in two Champions League finals before moving on to Real Madrid.

He enjoyed even more success in Spain, finally winning the Champions League in 2002, scoring the winning goal with a stunning left-foot volley, and landing a La Liga title a year later.

And the French icon has told his former employers to keep their cool amidst their current on-field crisis in which they have lost seven of their last 10 matches and crashed out of the Champions League group stages.

"Of course they're not going through an easy time and I'm very sad about that, there's a strong bond between me and the club," he told the Gazzetta dello Sport.

"They made me great and taught me to win. Juve will always be Juve and everyone would want to go there.

"And it's great to see the French connection continuing: (Michel) Platini, me, (Didier) Deschamps and now (David) Trezeguet and the president (Jean-Claude) Blanc.

"To Ciro I would say only to stay calm and to concentrate on his objectives.

"Winning the Europa League would be important and would allow Juve to play in the European Supercup, hopefully against Real!"

Zidane also had words of comfort for the man currently filling his boots in the playmaker role at the club, Diego.

When Zidane left Juve bought Czech Pavel Nedved from Lazio to replace the Frenchman and he proved a great success.

He retired at the end of last season and Brazilian Diego was acquired from Werder Bremen but despite a great start he has since been widely criticised.

But Zidane insisted he too had needed time to settle down.

"My first three months (were difficult), I wanted to chase everything. Luckily for me there was a certain (Marcello) Lippi who always showed faith in me and protected me.

"With a new foreigner you have to give him time and patience. But there's no question over Diego's ability, he's very good."

Zidane also insisted that Italian football as a whole is not in crisis despite their clubs' struggles to progress in Europe's premier competition these last couple of seasons.

Last year no team made the quarter-finals of either the Champions League or the UEFA Cup while the year before only AS Roma made the Champions League last eight.

"It's not a crisis, it's the classical period of difficulty. Before you were winning and the Spanish and English clubs seemed to be in crisis," he said.

"Now it's the opposite but you'll soon be back. And don't forget that you're world champions."

Looking ahead to the World Cup later this year, Zidane said he wished his former club coach Lippi, now the Italy boss, well.

"We talk frequently, we're friends. I hope he has a great World Cup but preferably finishing behind France this time."

Zidane's last ever competitive match was the 2006 World Cup final against Italy as he captained his country.

He scored a penalty for France but was sent off in extra-time for head-butting centre-back Marco Materazzi and Italy, led by Lippi, went on to win on penalties.