PARIS, May 24 (Reuters) – France went down on their knees at the 2002 World Cup because Zinedine Zidane injured his thigh a few days before the start of the tournament.
French fans might also kneel, this time as a testimony of admiration, if the balding playmaker leaves his mark on the European Championship as he did in the 1998 World Cup final or the 2002 Champions League final.
With the Euro 2004 finals starting next month, the soft-spoken Zidane will have the opportunity to show once again that he is among the world’s greatest ever players.
The brilliant playmaker has extended his contract with Real Madrid until 2007 but he was a little more coy when asked if he would go on with Les Bleus after the competition in Portugal.
Euro 2004 would then be the best chance for him to go for a second Golden Ball and reduce the gap with other football greats such as Michel Platini and Johan Cruyff, three-times winners of the European Footballer of the Year award.
His nonchalant close control, delicate turns, his ability to create space for himself where none existed a second earlier and his unmatched vision of the game soon made him a favourite at Real Madrid when he won the FIFA player of the year award for the third time in 2003.0