France’s defeat, Zidane’s ultimate vindication
You were there when that red card was shown that changed your feelings about the Italian Football team forever, we all were. In fact I struggle to think of an event since 9/11 that shocked such a large audience watching their TV sets, in what was a relatively calm atmosphere some 5 minutes prior to the fact.
The truth is that Zinedine Zidane carried France through to the Final of the 2006 World Cup almost single handedly. That he potentially threw away what was probably the best four weeks of football he ever played with an emotionally charged head butt doesn’t change much about who he is and what his contribution to football was.
I’m of the notion however that we have only just, some four years on, witnessed the full extent of his impact in the 2006 World Cup, with the last defeat of the French at the hands of South Africa yesterday. Especially since over half the team is still the exact same squad Zidane led to what I still believe is a final they should have won.
Conclusion. The loss of Zinedine Zidane from the France side was not the loss of one of the greatest play makers of all time. It was the loss of one of the single greatest captains and sources of inspiration to a team in the game of football. France was a relatively ordinary team before Zidane agreed to come out of International retirement to lead the squad and he made every single player on the pitch look and feel better by his mere being captain of the side. Not to mention his powers of persuasion in unification of the locker room.
A classic example is Frank Ribery, who for all intents and purposes, has done the best job of highlighting how great Zidane made his team mates look and perform. Ribery was the talk of the town four years ago and plenty of speculation surrounded his every move until he recently re-signed for Bayern Munich when no one else would pay top dollar for him. How the mighty have fallen without the foundation that allowed them to stand.
Perhaps it’s time that France come to terms with why they really lost this year. A lack of unity, inspiration and enough talent to dazzle the world four years after losing their greatest asset of all time. The magician that was, Zinedine Zidane.