Zizou: The Last Goodbye

    For those of us who like football, it is really a pleasure to see Zinedine Zidane , in his last World Cup and goodbye to football, in his best form on the eve of retirement (he has already retired from his club: Real Madrid and after the World Cup he retires from his national team and football), with the anguish that each game could be the last, either because of a French elimination, because of a second yellow card that prevented him from playing the next game (it happened in the quarterfinal match against Brazil and the semifinal against Portugal), a red and even an injury (the years do not pass in vain). 

    As Jerry Seinfield (producer and actor of the most successful series of all time in terms of ratings) said, you have to retire at the best time. It is best for an athlete to decide when to retire and not for football to retire. That’s what Zidane decided, when they already gave him up for dead, which was no longer the same as before, in the last two years at Real Madrid. At 34 he decided to go through the big door on the number one stage of world football, this gave him great motivation to face it in the best possible way, to face it as eight years ago, when he was world champion, with the difference of that he was 26 years old, it was another team and he was not the leader, although he was a very valuable piece. He had the discipline, determination, confidence, courage, faith and mental strength to prepare himself in the best physical and mental way for this World Cup, since technically, what else can Zizou learn ?

    Zinedine Zidane had the courage and courage to say that he decided when he retired, the Spanish journalists wanted to do so, but no, Zidane decided when it was over. These situations fuel your inner fire in the face of adversity and challenge. In the same way, he decided to retire from Real Madrid before the World Cup, scoring a goal in his last game.

    The great ones are seen in difficult moments, it is in those moments in which their figure grows, they are the ones they enjoy the most. He decided to return to the French team, to take it to the classification at the time when it seemed elusive. He appeared in the key moments from the second round of the World Cup, directing the French offensive against Spain and scoring a great third goal in that match, directing the team’s baton against Brazil, putting on football, setting the times, giving the pass scoring against T. Henry and taking the lead in the match against Portugal and taking responsibility for kicking the winning penalty against Portugal in the semi-final.

    This is where the hierarchy can be seen, anyone can play well in easy games, the great ones, those with mental strength, like him, appear in the most complicated moments, assume leadership, without neglecting their humility, despite His experience and achievements in football, leads the team, shows the way and gives confidence, while giving it to himself. The conviction he has when things go well gives him a masterful confidence, looking up at the sky as if a superior force were touching him. Not for nothing is he the captain, that is not by chance having players with great characteristics, hierarchy and leadership skills such as Thuram , Vieira or Makelele , having the ability to unite them based on an objective, he is a leader who seduces his teammates to put them on the car of their vision and illusion.

But how is it possible that he plays that way in the twilight of his career?

    It is possible because he set himself a goal, he made an effort to achieve it and had an advantage over the rest, there was no tomorrow for him, there was only the present, the now, which made him focus on what he had to do in that moment because there would be no new opportunity, there would be no more rematches or more opportunities. This gave him an impressive conviction, really for him each game could be the last, so he had nothing to keep and that made him enjoy every moment to the fullest.

    France is a great team, with great players ( Thuram , Vieira, Makelele Ribery Sagnol and Henry) and a great team to achieve important things needs a great leader and that figure emerged in Zidane , who despite being a figure of His dimension shows humility and puts his capacity at the service of the team, prioritizing “we” over “I” like so many other players do not, because of egos, when precisely the we is what makes a strong team and he leads it.

    There was annoyance in the group due to the poor results of the team, according to his own expectations, but as a good leader he endured the discrepancies with the coach, the frustration that things did not work out, he was calm, that added to the collective annoyance by the approach they called defensive in the first round and the absence of Trezeguet’s 11 starter , just when the team was lacking a goal.


First round:
France vs. Switzerland (0 – 0) France vs. South Korea (1 – 1) – Henry goal and Korean draw. France vs. Togo (2 – 0) – Zidane did not play due to accumulation of yellow cards, 2 goals from Vieira. 

Vieira “There is great potential in this team and I hope that this classification will help us to play with greater freedom, because we are not bad at all.” “It took time and it was difficult but in the end we proved to be competitive and we achieved our first goal which was to advance to the second phase of the tournament.” 

Round of 16:
France vs. Spain (3 – 1): Ribery’s first goal , Spanish draw, Vieira’s second goal and Zidane’s third goal 

Zidane “No, retirement did not come tonight. I am sorry for the Spaniards who had predicted it (the Spanish newspapers said that their selection would withdraw it). The adventure continues. We are happy and ready. We wanted to get through this round and do great things. In the group stage we couldn’t show what we had inside ”. Zidane becomes strong in the face of adversity, that shows the mental strength he has, great players hide in the important moments but that is not his case, he appears precisely in the key moments.  

Zidane “The (recent) goal against Spain was a little luxury for me. Maybe it was my last goal in football. I hope not, but you never know. They have treated us as old men. Well, there you have the answer. We are not old. And if we are, we are strong enough to beat the young Spaniards. It has been a spectacular triumph, one of the best in my life. I believe that I have given several joys to Spanish football during my time at Real Madrid to be told such a thing. This old man has much more to give ” . He resented the Spanish attack and it hurt for what he gave to that football but from that pain he drew strength to give his best. 

Robinho (Brazilian midfielder and former Real Madrid teammate): “ Zidane is a high quality player, he is about to leave the pitch and it will be a great loss for football. But I hope his career ends on Saturday. Zidane jokes a lot about that, he says that in that final the French only won because they had no responsibility, that it was entirely from Brazil, and he affirms that he did not expect to score goals ”. Show simplicity and humility. 

Zidane “We are going to prepare a lot. We are very well mentally , but it will not be easy ”.  

France vs. Brazil (1 – 0): Zidane’s free kick pass , Henry’s goal. 

Ribery (French midfielder): “We meet again with ‘ Zizou ‘ and he with us. The important thing is that we have maintained our line, that we have not departed from it ” . This confirms their leadership.  

Parreira (Brazil coach): He rejected criticism for not having set a personal mark on Zinedine Zidane : “It was not necessary, Zidane has been well known to everyone for more than a decade. Maybe yesterday he played his best game in eight years ”.   

Ronaldinho (Brazilian midfielder): “Whatever happens, this World Cup has served for Zidane to be considered one of the great footballers in history for life. I have great affection for Zidane ”.  

Henry (French forward): “This is a team sport. You cannot shine one over the other. And we are a team. We fight for each other. They all try to do their best ”. The importance of us, solidarity and collective effort.     

France vs. Portugal (1 – 0) – Penalty committed against Henry and executed and converted by Zidane . 

Zidane “There needs to be pressure to take the penalty. But it is a good pressure. I told myself that if I scored, we would win, that is, we would get ahead on the scoreboard and if we didn’t receive goals we would be in the final. ” What is known as agonistic, that desire to succeed, what moves you, that stress or nervousness necessary to mobilize and propel you to achieve something, reach a goal. He is not afraid of pressure and responsibility, he enjoys it.  

Zidane “ We have to win this Cup. It will be magnificent. Not for us, not for the 23 players, but for the entire technical team and the people who have supported us. And I’m talking about the people who have supported us from the beginning to the end, and not about those who jumped on the bandwagon along the way ”. With these statements he helps to strengthen the mystique and unity of the group. However, the we have implies pressure and over demand, on him and others. There is a double message.   

Zidane “We have all made great efforts. Winning the trophy will not be easy, but we have the weapons. It will be nice to lift it again and there are 23 of us to achieve that ”. He is a leader who fosters group cohesion.  

Zidane “We are going to rest. We have given everything today. It was very hot. We have three days to rest and I think that on Sunday we will be ready. We have a motto: we must all die together ” . One for all and all for one, without a doubt they are a team.  

Makelele “We were questioned a lot but we are showing everyone that we are here to win, that we defend our game and that we are going to continue like this, to die with ours.” 

Makelele “We are tired, yes, but we are not going to lower our arms .” “The important thing for us is to rest well to be able to face the final in the best way. It will be difficult. Italy is a good team, strong, that’s why we have to be whole ”. There is a great fighting spirit.   

Makelele “He is the head, the one who sets the times and says things at the right time , he is a fighter . Zidane is a player who gives us a lot, which means a lot for this team. It is the flag of the team ”. He perceives, accepts and respects him as the leader of the group.    

Makelele “We are going to play a final, which is the best thing that can happen to you. But it is not only that: in addition, it is necessary to win it ”. You can also see the pressure to win in his statement, again a double message, on the one hand the joy of playing a final and on the other the pressure for “having to” win it.  

Gattuso (Italian midfielder): ” Zidane cannot be annulled by a whole game, Zidane is the best in the world.” “I played several times against him with Milan , but I never made a man-to-man mark. To stop it you have to cross yourself ”. ” Zidane is not an incubus either, he has two legs, two arms, just like me.”  

Doménech (French coach): “The players are a bit tired. “But is normal”. “It is about physical exhaustion, in no case psychological , which is excellent news. It is already known that the final is won by the team that is mentally stronger ”.    

Doménech “I keep repeating it, my players are not older! It is true that some are of a respectable age, but with good preparation they can still run (laughs). My men are confident , and that is the most important thing. Age can be a problem in competitions where you have to make intense efforts for six months, but not in such a short tournament ”. In fact, the experienced ones can have very good sustained performances in short tournaments like the World Cup, that is difficult in longer tournaments where age begins to be an important factor.   

Doménech “The veterans know what this is about and spread their safety to the rest of the team. Doubts never assail them and they don’t speculate about the game before it is played . I can assure you that on Sunday at eight o’clock in the afternoon they will be ready. ” The experience brings balance and tranquility to the group. He also refers that his experienced ones do not doubt when the moment of truth or anticipate the facts but live each thing in its moment, without anxieties or deconcentration.   

Doménech “When the final of a competition like this is reached, the dominant feeling is enthusiasm. That was our idea at the beginning and we are very happy that it has become a reality. It is the most beautiful game, because it is the last. After our victories against Spain and Brazil, we did not want to make predictions. But now, we are already there ”. 

Doménech “At this moment, a strange feeling comes over me. I have always deeply admired the Italian team, at all times. Their teams have been very fighters and have always shown great strength of mind. We all have our memories of every Squadra Azzurra. I am going to face this match with a very special emotion ”.   

Sagnol (French defense): “There are collective discussions, where everyone says what they think, raises their questions. From the beginning, we did everything together . There was no splinter group; the players were not there on the one hand and the technical team on the other ”.  

Sagnol “We found the best formula for everyone to give their best, for the team to progress. Everyone wanted to shoot in the same direction, with necessarily different ideas. But the work within the group has been done well, we are in the final ”. 

Sagnol “Everyone got to work on this defensive block and, when I see the efforts of Zidane and Henry, their defensive careers to the detriment of their personal brilliance, I think they are things that are not emphasized enough.” 

Final :
France vs. Italy : Penalty committed to Malouda , masterfully executed by Zidane , goal. Italy tie. Sent off in the second overtime for an attack on an Italian, hitting him in the chest with a head butt. This fact is very unfortunate, it is a reflection of the frustration for the party and this was taken advantage of and fed by the opponent. A player of his quality and experience should not make these mistakes, which cost him dearly in the last game of his career. Although unfortunately this fact stains a brilliant career, such a mistake does not erase what he has done in his career and the great World Cup he did. Finally France lost 5 – 3 on penalties.

Beckenbauer (president of the World Cup organizing committee): “That can’t happen to someone like Zidane . Materazzi must have told him something . Zidane thus weakened his team. We all know how sensitive the French are. If they don’t see their captain anymore, they will collapse ”. Zidane is a great footballer and he still is. The game against Brazil was won by himself. And it’s a shame that he stops playing. At Bayern we would welcome him with open arms. And that he says goodbye like this, I don’t understand it ”.  

Zidane’s cousin “ Zizou has his ways, he doesn’t hit. It is gentle. But surely, Materazzi , he said something serious. I heard you called him a terrorist. “ 

Jacques Chirac (President of France): “I don’t know what happened, why they punished him. But I would like to express my respect for a man who represents both the most beautiful values ​​of sport and the best human qualities that I can imagine.  

Alain Migliaccio ( Zidane’s agent ): “He told me that Materazzi said something very serious to him, but that he would not tell me.” “ Zinedine didn’t want to talk about it any more, but he will do so in the next few days. He is a person who normally lets those things not affect him, but yesterday something exploded inside him. I was disappointed and sad, I didn’t want to end this way.  

What happened in the final with Zidane ?

    We venture with an explanation. Up to here it was an article with a different tonic as a tribute to this great player who has given us so many joys, but we did not have that type of reaction from him, although it must be remembered that it is not the first time that it happens:

  • French national team: In the 1998 World Cup France, against Saudi Arabia, he treads on the player Faid Amin and is sent off and suspended for two games (the last of the first phase against Denmark and the round of 16 against Paraguay).
  • Juventus : Playing the Champions League, qualifying against Hamburg was at stake , Juventus lost 3 – 1, he headed Kientz , being sent off and suspended for five games, he had to serve the sanction when he went to Real Madrid.
  • Real Madrid: In one game he kicked Djalminha from behind and in another game he slapped Quique Álvarez in the face, for both games he was expelled.

    While he is not a violent player, he has had some backlash in his career. We understand that the root of all this is pressure and frustration.

    Pressure: This started before the game was played. There was a lot of talk, the Italians put pressure on France saying that they were the favorites, that Zidane was a genius and that everything happened to control him, this increased the pressure on France and could bring jealousy within the group. While Zidane got into his bubble, he did not declare and these behaviors were defended by the French coach, since he has never been a player who feels comfortable with the media and was preparing for the final, there was nervousness. From before the start of the game he looked tense, he did not greet his former Juventus coach (Marcelo Lippi ) or his former teammates, and with the fair he greeted the Italian captain Cannavaro in the exchange of flags , making him an outrage since He wanted to hug him and was receptive and smiling unlike the French captain who was quite serious, self-absorbed and distant. Probably knowing what was coming from them. When he takes the penalty, he doesn’t celebrate much, he was still uneasy. He was not even very confident, since he refers that the penalty, Panenka style , he did so for fear of launching it as he usually did and that Buffón would stop him. At all times he felt pressured, tense, in the first half he did not let go, he had a strong mark, already in the second half he manages to lose a little of the mark and improves a lot and this is how France does it unlike the first half in the which after the penalty they had to endure intense Italian pressure.

    Frustration : Because a ball that would be key to the French victory did not enter, a play that he begins and arrives to head that Jester masterfully delivers in the supplementary, because Ribery comes out with his power for change, because his lieutenant or right hand Vieira is injured , because Henry leaves out of fatigue, because he suffers a strong blow to the shoulder that makes him ask for his change and then recover his spirits and decide to stay. Because time was running out and I couldn’t put France up on the scoreboard. And finally knowing these circumstances and knowing him very well in his strengths and weaknesses his former coach and former teammates from Juventus of Turin, touch the most sensitive vein, because one thing is the insult that does not touch sensitive or intimate fibers and another is the insult who knows where to aim because there it will hurt, the Italians knew the Achilles heel of Zidane , there they aimed and hit the target. The manager was Materazzi , who pulled, pinched and spoke to him. Frustration because he wanted to retire champion and could not.

    But what was Materazzi told him , there are several hypotheses:

  • First version: What he told you is an Islamic terrorist, he is a descendant of Algerian immigrants ( Smail and Malika ) and apparently he also had a tough childhood in France.
  • Second version: They insulted his wife and daughter.
  • Third version: That they put a lot of ether on the beaten shoulder and that when inhaled it generates lack of control, impulsiveness and aggressiveness.
  • Fourth version: They insulted his mother and sister (Lila, 36-year-old only sister, also has three brothers: Djamel Farid and Nourredine ). The latter from the information obtained seems the closest to the truth. But this should not go beyond the mere formality of the typical insult on a football field. But from the aforementioned pressure and frustration, it just blew up. Apparently the sister has charges of prostitution, and the other says that she is a little “moved” and about the mother it seems that she is not in good health, these hypotheses collected by the media. In Brazil, the Brazilian television channel Globo consulted several deaf-mute lip-reading specialists who concluded that Materazzi said, on up to two occasions, Zidane’s sister a “prostitute” and also insulted him. This, in turn, was asserted by Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira.

Zidane “Then he told me very harsh words that he repeated several times, words that affected me a lot about my sister and my mother. Words that are sometimes harsher than gestures. It is something that, in any case, is done very quickly. These are words that affect me to the core. They were very personal things, affecting my mother and my sister. They were very harsh words, repeated several times. He spoke insulting words about my mother and my sister. I tried not to listen to him but he kept repeating them. You hear them once and try to get through. That’s what I do because I’m actually leaving. You listen to them twice, and then a third time… ”. 

“… He was pulling my shirt and I told him to stop and if he wanted her to wait until the end of the game. I cannot regret my gesture since that would mean that he was right in saying all that. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t say that. And no, he has no reason to say what he said. It is not enough to always sanction the reaction. It is enough to always sanction the reaction. What I want to say is that the reaction is always talked about, that it is inevitably punishable and must be punished. If there is no provocation, there cannot be a reaction. It is necessary to punish the true culprit, and the culprit is he, the one who provokes. Do you think that in a World Cup final, when I am ten minutes from the end of my career, I am going to make a gesture like that because it gives me pleasure? ” He concluded by saying that he would rather be punched than hear certain insults. 

    * We must not forget that Zidane has always been quite reserved with his personal life, that he has protected her from the media and has never been a fan of them, he has always liked to play football but not so much everything that this brings with him, such as fame, media exposure, family harassment, among others, while there may be other footballers, such as David Beckham , who are very good at handling these situations and even enjoy them and get the most out of it, but that It is not his case, he simply likes to play soccer. In a post-world interview, he recalls the effect that comments from the Spanish press had on his family: “Above all because of the effect they have on those around me, but you have to accept criticism, if it is in a sports setting.” 

    With this we do not try to defend this great player but we try to understand this reaction and the reason for his mistake. It is useful to understand this in order to work with footballers and athletes in general, and reach an elementary conclusion in football, sport and life: “he who gets itchy loses.” A final is something very special, where there is a lot of nerve, tension, pressure, interests, a lot is played in one and many times sports ethics and the gentlemen’s agreement, unfortunately, are neglected. As we have been mentioning in this article, Zidane was the leader of the group, but his frustration, anger, rage won him over, he did not know how to control his emotions, his emotional intelligence failed when he needed it most. It happens and as you can see it happens even the best, this is an area in which sports psychology has a lot to contribute so that these situations do not happen, since in the face of these errors not only Zidane loses , but his team and finally his country, He lost the notion in that instant that there was something greater, more important than him, that was fighting for an end superior to the personal ones, the common good, the world title.

    The excellent leadership that he had been having in the World Cup failed at the key moment, of course this was worked and used by the Italians, but it had to be prevented and worked on beforehand.

    Doménech “We felt his lack in the last minutes. That weighed heavily on the scale. It’s a shame ” . The French coach acknowledges the absence of leadership after his departure and how this broke the spirit of the group. 

    Zidane failed the French system, the national team because he prioritized his family system to the group of the national team, that is, he put his “I” before the “we” that the French team meant, it was more important for him, at that time, more not in the whole championship, to defend his honor and that of his family instead of sacrificing himself for the group. Of course, he later regretted it and apologized to his teammates in the dressing room but it was too late. He had to go, he left a team without its leader and they were lost, devastated to finally lose on penalties.

Zidane “I apologize to the children who saw it… My gesture is not forgivable (…) Of course it is not a gesture to be imitated. I have to say it loud and clear because it was seen by two or three billion viewers and millions and millions of children watched it. Inevitably I apologize to them and also to the people and teachers who are there to educate these children and show them the things they should and should not do ”. 

Despite all this, Zinedine Zidane was named BEST PLAYER: GOLDEN BALL OF THE WORLD CUP GERMANY 2006  


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