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FOOTBALL

Zinedine Zidane

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Zinedine Zidane

France | Midfielder

Achievements: World Cup Winner 1998

In his prime, Zinedine Zidane was the greatest player in the world -- a world champion, European champion, European Cup winner and three-time FIFA World Player of the Year.

A playmaker of supreme ability, Zidane's dribbling skills and deft touch take him to a level which most world-class footballers can only dream of.

Furthermore, his natural talent is undercut by a steely mental strength which spearheaded France's charge to their first-ever World Cup success, on home soil in 1998.

Zidane shot to the international fore in 1994, scoring two goals as a substitute on his debut for France against the Czech Republic.

But it was Zidane's performances during the 1998 finals that earned him his place in the French national consciousness.

Despite missing two games after being sent off in the opening round, Zidane was named the tournament's best performer.

Inspirational in the final, he chose that clash with Brazil to score his first ever World Cup goals.

Two thumping headers stunned the four-time champions and Zizou, as he is affectionately known, became the toast of the nation, his face imposed on the Arc de Triomphe.

Two years later Zidane helped France add the European Championship title to their world crown at Euro 2000, but in 2002 he was missing with injury as France crashed out in the first round, returning too late for his country's final group match.

Following further disappointment at Euro 2004, Zidane announced his international retirement. But with French qualification for Germany in doubt, Zidane answered calls for him to return to the side.

Zidane, who turns 34 during the World Cup, has already announced plans to retire after the tournament, giving fans one last chance to enjoy the sublime skills of one of the game's greatest-ever talents.

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