Category: Profiles

Player Profile: Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane, also known as ‘Zizou’ is perhaps one of the greatest professional footballer to ever grace the game during the last decade. One of the very few players to have won every top national and club level honours, Zidane has been the footballing idol of many youngsters who’ve been following the game throughout his distinguished career.


Personal Background:

Zidane was originally born in Marseille after both his parents migrated from Algeria. He later joined the junior team of US Saint-Henri, a local club in Marseille and eventually got involved in the first-year junior selection for the league championship at the age of 14.

His gifted talent and skills in football soon caught the eye of AS Cannes scout Jean Varraud. From here on, his professional career took off…

Major Contributions:

Club Level:

At club level, Zidane made a slow start to his career. Arguably, some ctritics had doubts and underestimated his talents as to whether he would become one of the best in the world of football. In 1995, Jack Walker infamously rejected the proposal for signing Zidane by replying “Why do you want to sign Zidane when we have Tim Sherwood?”.

During his career at club level, Zidane made some important contributions, most notably his match-winning first time volley goal against Bayer Leverkusen in the 2002 UEFA Champions League Final. But other achievements at club level appeared to be moderate as he won two league titles in the Italian Serie A and a single league title in the Spanish La Liga with Real Madrid.

Achievements:
Juventus

    1. Serie A: 1996-97, 1997-98
    2. Supercoppa Italiana: 1997
    3. UEFA Super Cup: 1996
    4. Intercontinental Cup: 1996
    5. UEFA Intertoto Cup: 1999

      Zidane during his Juventus Days

Real Madrid

  1. La Liga: 2002-03
  2. Supercopa de España: 2001, 2003
  3. UEFA Champions League: 2001-02
  4. Intercontinental Cup: 2002

    Scores the winning goal in the Champions League Final vs Bayer Leverkusen

International Level:

In contrast, Zidane appeared to produce magical moments at international level which made him one of the best players of his generation in the world of football.

He almost single-handedly guided France to the 2006 World Cup Final alas they lost to the Italians in final. In the previous tournaments, Zidane has been instrumental for France by scoring two goals in the 1998 World Cup Final against Brazil and two goals in the quarters and semi final which would guide them to become only the second team to win both the World Cup and Euro Championship in 2000.

Achievements:

France

  1. FIFA World Cup: 1998
  2. UEFA European Football Championship: 2000

World Cup 1998 Winner

Personal:
Throughout Zidane’s career, notably at club level, it surprisingly appeared to be average until some time towards the peak of his career at Real Madrid where most football fans began to acknowledge his true qualityl. Needless to say, it is at the international stage that separated Zinedine Zidane from the rest. Moments in quarter finals of the world cup in 2006 where he tormented the Brazilians are memorable and magical. This earned him world recognition and which in my opinion easily ranks him among the Peles, Maradonas, Cruyffs and Beckenbaurs.

Achievements:

  1. Ballon D’or – 1998
  2. FIFA World Player of the Year – 1998, 2000, 2003
  3. Golden Ball – 2006

Yet another Player of the Year award

Conclusion:

Personally, out of all the great players except maybe Pele, Maradona and Cruyff, Zidane makes the football game looks incredibly simple. Zidane proves that there’s always time to make important passes and producing goods like the famous 360 roulette. Unfortunately there are times when we see the ugly side of Zidane, though I prefer not to mention it since we would like to focus on his wonderful talent in football, and not forgetting that he is a simple and private person outside football. A great example to follow. Please do enjoy the following clip we found on Youtube showing some amazing skills and moves from the great Zinedine Zidane.

Player Profile: Hristo Stoichkov

hristo stoichkovHristo Stoickhov, notoriously known as the dagger embraced the world of football for the last decade along with the likes of Romario, Roberto Baggio and Jurgen Klinsmann. The Bulgarian made an impact to the Bulgaria national side in World Cup 1994 and Johan Cruyff’s “Dream Team” of Barcelona FC which made him European Footballer of the Year 1994.

Background
His humble beginnings began in his hometown Hebros before moving to CSKA Sofia the following year in 1985. There he was involved in the 1985 Bulgarian Cup final and managed to score 38 goals in 30 games which earned him the European Golden Boot. His clinical finishing and constant goal threat caught the eye of Johan Cruyff.

Club

Stoickhov had a successful journey in his career at club level. He is instrumental to both clubs CSKA Sofia and FC Barcelona. But also on other clubs towards the peak of his career at Al-Nassr and Chicago Fire.

The Dream Team
He was part of Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona in those successful era of the early 90s contributing Primera Division for four consecutive years (1991-1994) and ultimately the European Cup (1992) in Wembley after defeating Sampdoria. His unique display made him popular among Barca’s fans.

Honours

CSKA Sofia
1. PBL Bulgarian League – 1987, 1989, 1990
2. Bulgarian Cup – 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989
3. Bulgarian Super Cup – 1989

Barcelona
Domestic
1. LaLiga Spaninsh League – 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1998
2. Supercopa de Espana Spanish Super Cup – 1992, 1994, 1996
3. Copa Del Rey Spanish Cup – 1997

European
1. European Cup (Champions League) – 1992
2. European Super Cup – 1992, 1997
3. European Cup Winners’ Cup – 1997

Other Clubs
Hristo Stoickhov spent most of his time at Barca and CSKA Sofia. But later decided for a fresh challenge by joining Al-Nassr in 1998 and D.C United as his last club in 2003. He instrumented on Al-Nassr’s victory in Asian Cup Winners Cup (1998) and later US Open Cup (2001) with Chicago Fire in the U.S.

Al-Nassr
1. Asian Cup Winners Cup – 1998

Chicago Fire
1. U.S Open Cup – 2000

International

Bulgaria
There is no doubt that Hristo Stoickhov is a legend among Bulgarian fans for the last decade and maybe the best of all time. At the 1994 World Cup, he became the joint top goal scorer with six goals thus awarded the World Cup Golden Boot. Furthermore he almost single-handedly carry Bulgaria to the semi-final but only to lost against the brilliance of Roberto Baggio and the Italians.

-4th place World Cup 1994

Coaching
During his coaching career, Hristo Stoickhov had quite a controversial issues with several clubs and country. He started as a forward coach at Barca and then became the national coach for Bulgaria. He then coached for the remaining clubs in Celta Vigo and Mamelodi Sundowns. Overall, he is still in the learning stage of his career as a coach but struggle to sustain his position in any of these clubs.

Individual Honours

1. European Footballer of the Year (Ballon D’Or) – 1994
2. 1994 World Cup Golden Shoe – 6 goals
3. European Golden Boot – 1989
4. Golden Foot “All Time” Legends – 2007
5. FIFA 100

Stoichkov Golden BallOverall
His blistering pace with explosive shots and best crosses as a left winger made undeservedly and notoriously known as the “Dagger”. Hristo Stoickhov has indeed earned himself as the star, a legend and one of the best players for the last decade. However, there are times when he has let himself down due to his short-tempered character. Yet, he will remain a legend and who wouldn’t forget his brilliant display at World Cup 1994 in the U.S.