When the subject of the greatest footballer of all time crops up, people are usually divided between Pelé and Maradona. But growing up in the 90’s and having nothing but grainy videotapes too watch of these two South American giants, I can’t really choose which of the two were greater. For one, they plied thier trade in different eras of the game, and secondly, while Maradona showcased his talents in Europe for a chunk of his career, Pelé did not. This suggests that they each had to strive under different conditions and different styles of football (one cannot deny that there are vast differences between the South American game and the European game). For me, the greatest footballer of all time is Zinedine Zidane. He was the reason why I fell in love with the sport, and in my opinion, he should be remembered in the same breath as Pelé and Maradona.
I was only 10 years old when he scored those two amazing headers in the 1998 World Cup Final against Brazil. Two years later he dazzled the world in EURO 2000, and picked up the Player of the Tournament award. He joined Real Madrid in 2001 from Juventus for the then world record of €78 million. He proved his worth by scoring a left foot stunner of a goal in the Champions League final 2002. Having won all the top honours at an international level (FIFA World Cup 1998, EURO 2000) and several individual honours, he announced his retirement from international football following France’s disapponting EURO 2004.
….Above: Zidane’s left foot, volley in the champions League Final 2002….
…Below… FIFA World Footballer of the Year..3 times…
He was convinced out of retirement by French coach Raymongd Domenech. He then worked his magic through the 2006 World Cup to help France reach the final. I’ll never forget how he tore apart Brazilian and Spanish defenses with ease! People compared him to a “ballerina,” which may seem like a bizzare comparision to make to a 1.85m (6ft 1in) man, but its true! He had a certain grace about him. Once in possesion, defenders had a hard time getting the ball off him. Not only because it seemed as though the ball was attached to his foot, but also because he was a very big, bulky guy. Physically difficult to tackle or bring down. He was the perfect footballer.
Regarless of how his career ended (The headbutting incident and sendoff), he won everything there was to win at an international, club and personal level. He delivered on the worlds biggest stages, on the grandest of occasions, against the fiercest of rivals- world cup finals, champions league finals etc. He was a matchwinner. So, when people ask me who I think is the greatest footballer of all time, I am not divided on that issue, for me there is only one: ZIZOU
….Zizou with the World Cup and EURO Cup….