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The essence of the 'number 10'

Today is Zidane's 45th birthday, a player that had always embodied the qualities of the most beautiful role in football

The essence of the 'number 10' Today is Zidane's 45th birthday, a player that had always embodied the qualities of the most beautiful role in football

It is said '10' but it is read Zizou. It is said 'star player' but it is read Zidane. Zinedine Zidane, known as Zizou, is the purest representation of the football class: it is difficult to use other terms to describe one of the strongest players in the history of football. He has made us fall in love with his tricks, his soft kicks, his impossible assists and the most unimaginable moves. For more information, ask Butt, Bayer Leverkusen’s goalkeeper who became the protagonist, without him knowing, of one of the most beautiful goals in the history of the Champions League


Zidane as player

Nevertheless, Zidane has represented and still represents a lot more: born in Marseille, started to play football first in Cannes, and then in Bordeaux where he moved in 1992. With the Girondins de Bordeaux he won his first trophy in 1996, the Cup Intertoto. But that same year, Zizou made the decisive step forwards to what he is now: he was purchased by Juventus for about 7.5 billion lire, including him in a team which already counted with other champions such as Del Piero, Conte, and Vialli.

At 24, he was definitely part of the important football: despite the fact that the Franco-Algerian has always suffered from a benign thalassemia, something common in the Mediterranean which involves excessive fatigue during physical activity, Zidane succeeded in conquering his mates and fans in a short period of time. During his first year, he won the Italian championship, the Intercontinental Cup, and the UEFA Super Cup. Unfortunately for him and Juventus, he lost the Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund.

In Turin, he immediately became a leader and it was precisely his abnormality what led the team to the road of success. During the years as bianconero, Zizou became good friends especially with Montero and Davids: while with the first one he became famous for going out at night in Turin and Milan, with the second one he enjoyed going to Turin to play in small playing fields with strangers. And it was Zidane’s humanity, for better or for worse, what made him one of the most loved sports players around the world: during his career, the French player made several mistakes, especially in the field, where his excessive competitive character led him to betray the trust of his mates and his fans several times. 

In 2001, he is transferred to Real Madrid, which had to pay the great amount of 150 billion lire in order to take him from Juventus, making him one of the most paid players in the history of football. In Madrid, he joined the “Galacticos” and with them, he immediately won the Champions League by beating Bayer Leverkusen in the final. In Madrid, he will win everything becoming one of the most valued players both by the president Florentino Perez and by the fans of the Blancos. Yet, despite being the essence of the number 10, the really strange thing about Zidane is that, apart from the French national team, he never wore number 10, accompanying Del Piero first, and then Figo: while in Turin he chose number 21, in Madrid he decided to wear number 5.


Zidane as coach

In 2006, he decided to hang his boots and end a marvelous career by succeeding in winning everything at an individual level and at a team level: in 1998, he won both the Ballon d'Or and the World Cup with France. In 2000, he won the European Championship by beating Italy in the final. 

In 2009, after retiring from the football scene, he decided to dedicate his time to his family and to study, he got the coach’s license. In that same year, Perez wanted to make him Real Madrid’s ambassador. But, it was not until a few years later that he started the path that took him to win two Champions League and one Liga: he first became Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant coach with whom he won Real Madrid’s 'Decima' Champions League in the final of Lisbon, and then coach of Castilla always of Real Madrid. After that, after Rafa Benitez left, Zizou got the opportunity of his life: at the beginning of 2016, he took over the first team with which he immediately won the Champions League, demonstrating again everything he knew about football. He made history straight away, also because he was the first French coach to win the European trophy.

It needs to be recognized the uniqueness of a champion that has often been the focus of criticism over the years because of his behaviour sometimes defiant: despite this, it is hard, if not impossible, to find a sportsman who succeeded to left a sing as indelible as unexpected in the history of football in such a short period of time. Because who was born as number 10, can only live as number 10. Merci Zizou!