Zidane’s Legacy Since Retirement (2006)

Written in 2013 by Kavin Tamizhmani and Caitlin Moyles

Edited in 2013 by Becca Fisher, Rosa Toledo, and Elena Kim


Zidane retired after the 2006 FIFA World Cup final against Italy, in which France lost 3-5 in a penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 tie. Zidane memorably headbutted Italy’s Marco Materazzi, received a red card, and was dismissed from the game in the 110th minute. The verbal altercation that provoked the head butt was widely debated. However, Materazzi later admitted that when Zidane offered to give him his jersey after the game, since Materazzi had been tugging on it so much, Materazzi replied that he would prefer Zidane’s sister.

The memorable end to Zidane’s career has definitely left a permanent imprint in France’s collective consciousness, as evidenced by the 16-foot-high bronze statue of Zidane headbutting Materazzi that was unveiled in front of Paris’ Centre Pompidou modern art museum in 2012.

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A 16-foot-high bronze statue portraying Zidane aiming his shaven head at Italian opponent Marco Materazzi’s torso

But did Zidane’s ignominious (inauspicious?) end to his career tarnish his legacy? Immediately following the World Cup, some media coverage framed the event as a tragic end to a brilliant career. This excerpt from a BBC article published July 10, 2006, the day after the final match, is a good example:

“On his way back to the dressing room after his 110th-minute dismissal, Zidane passed the World Cup trophy.

It brought a sad end to his glittering career and his misery was compounded when France went on to lose 5-3 on penalties.

‘Zidane didn’t say anything,’ said [France defender William] Gallas. ‘He was very disappointed for everybody—for the team and himself.

‘I’m very sad for him. It was his last World Cup and everybody wanted to win for him.’”

However, the same article reported that when the French team was received by then-President Jacques Chirac upon their return, the President expressed only admiration and gratitude for Zidane: “Dear Zinedine, in such a hard and intense moment for you, I would like to express the whole nation’s affection and admiration for you. You are a virtuoso, a genius of football and an exceptional human being. That is why France admires you.”

In the long run, Zidane’s outburst does not seem to have cast a permanent shadow on his legacy.

Although filmed before the World Cup, the 2006 documentary film Zidane, a 21st Century Portrait remains an enduring testament to the French and soccer-following public’s fascination with Zidane’s playing style. Filmed in real time during the Spanish Liga Real Madrid vs. Villarreal CF game on April 23, 2005, the documentary used 17 synchronized cameras to follow Zidane for the entirety of the match.

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Poster for the 2006 French documentary film, Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait

In July 2011, Zidane announced that he would become Real Madrid’s new sporting director. Zidane played for Real Madrid between 2001 and 2006, after helping France win the 1998 World Cup and the European Championship in 2000.

Additionally, the coach frequently surfaces in the media.

Earlier this year, Zidane interviewed former Real Madrid teammate David Beckham for Canal+, a French television network.

French GQ featured Zidane on the cover of their July 2012 issue. The iconic athlete has also appeared in small, lighthearted news videos, such as this one published by The Daily Mail online in September, 2013, which teases the video of Zidane showing off his skills at 41 years old.

Appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador by the United Naions Development Programme in 2001, Zidane continues to play in charity matches. In May 2013, for instance, he played in a Manchester United vs. Real Madrid legends match to raise money for Manchester’s foundation, Red Heart United.


How to cite this article: “Zidane Since 2006,” Written by Kavin Tamizhmani and Caitlin Moyles (2013). Edited by Becca Fisher, Rosa Toledo, and Elena Kim (2013), Soccer Politics Pages, Soccer Politics Blog, Duke University, http://sites.duke.edu/wcwp (accessed on 10/17/13).

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