Tuesday, June 23, 2009

23 June 1972 - ZZ On Top

On 23 June 1972, French star midfielder Zinedine Zidane was born in Marseille. His parents were Kabyle Muslims from the village of Aguemone in Algeria. They moved to Paris in 1953 and settled in Marseille a few years later.

Zidane, nicknamed "Zizzou," started his professional career with Cannes, where he played from 1988 to 1992. He transferred to Bordeaux for the 1992-93 season and helped them to win the Intertoto Cup in 1995. In all, he made 174 appearances for the Girondins, scoring 37 goals. He also earned individual recognition, being named the Ligue 1 Best Young Player in 1994 and Best Player in 1996.

In 1996, he moved to Juventus and helped them claim back-to-back Scudettos in his first two seasons. They also made consecutive appearances in the UEFA Champions League Finals those years, but lost to Borussia Dortmund in 1996 and Real Madrid in 1997. In 1998, he won the Ballon d'Or, due in part to his role in leading France to the 1998 World Cup title. He also won the 1998 FIFA World Player of the Year award, which he won again 2000.

In 2001, Zidane moved again, this time to Real Madrid for what was then the world record transfer fee of €76 million. He culminated his first season in Madrid by scoring the winning goal in Real's 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen in the 2002 UEFA Champions League Final. In 2003, he again won the FIFA World Player of the Year award, becoming only the second person to claim the honor three times (along with his Real teammate Ronaldo).

Despite all of his success on the pitch, he is probably best remembered for the 2006 World Cup in which he was sent off for head-butting Italy's Marco Materazzi in the 110th minute of the Final. It was his last professional match, as he retired from football after the tournament.

Zidane currently serves as an advisor for Real Madrid.

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