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Football fans will debate who the ultimate GOAT is until the cows come home, but for those watching in the early 2000s, there is only one candidate who stands out from all of them. others.

Zinedine Zidane, popularly known as Zizou, was quite simply a magician on the pitch with a physical presence far surpassed by the kind of grace you wouldn’t expect from a 6ft1in tall man.

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Zidane is a real contender for the title of greatest player of all time

Ronaldinho called him his idol, David Beckham said it was a dream to play with the Real Madrid star and Man United legend Paul Scholes said watching him play was like poetry in motion.

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He hasn’t done badly since he entered the dugout either.

Ronaldinho called him his idol, David Beckham said it was a dream to play with the Real Madrid star and Man United legend Paul Scholes said watching him play was like poetry in motion.

Zidane’s last appearance ended in controversy after he was sent off for a header in the 2006 World Cup final

The attacking midfielder, who has played for Bordeaux, Juventus and Real Madrid, has made the impossible possible on the football pitch, whether it’s slipping past countless opponents, scoring a superb volley in a Champions League final or seeing his career end with a shocking header over Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final, there aren’t many players where you can really say you don’t don’t know what’s next.

With a Champions League title, three league titles, two Intercontinental Cups, a European champion and a World Cup – not to mention three FIFA World Player of the Year awards – to his name, you will have struggling to find a more respected elder. world soccer player.

A player who turns 50 today, Zidane has made a huge impression on some of football’s biggest names, and here talkSPORT takes a look at what they’ve all said about him.

Franco Baresi

Baresi was recognized as one of the greatest Italian defenders in history and was at AC Milan when Zidane made his first mark at Juventus in 1996.

“He was as elegant as a dancer – he even used the soles of his boots effectively.


Ronaldinho called him his idol, David Beckham said it was a dream to play with the Real Madrid star and Man United legend Paul Scholes said watching him play was like poetry in motion.

Baresi witnessed Zidane’s introduction to Italian football when he joined Juventus

“Everything was easy for him; he made such moves that if I tried to copy them, I would break my legs.

Gary Lineker

The footballer-turned-broadcaster had hung up his goalscoring boots just as Zidane rose to prominence.

That said, Lineker has clearly seen enough to consider the French maestro among the best of all time.

He simply said: “The most elegant footballer I have ever seen.”

Ronaldinho called him his idol, David Beckham said it was a dream to play with the Real Madrid star and Man United legend Paul Scholes said watching him play was like poetry in motion.

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Lineker is one of the most recognizable faces in world football

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Ibrahimovic is one of the most talented mavericks in football today but has reserved particular praise for his predecessor on this front.

“When Zidane stepped onto the pitch, the other 10 guys suddenly improved. It’s as simple as that. It was magic.

“He was a unique player. He was more than good, he was from another planet. His teammates became like him when he was on the pitch.

Ronaldinho called him his idol, David Beckham said it was a dream to play with the Real Madrid star and Man United legend Paul Scholes said watching him play was like poetry in motion.

Zidane was football’s greatest maverick before Ibrahimovic’s arrival

Marcel Desailly

Zidane’s greatest achievement was winning the World Cup with France in 1998, and Les Bleus skipper Desailly couldn’t help but praise the playmaker who scored twice in the 1998 final against Brazil.

Describing Zidane, Desailly said: “A real artist. What he could do with the ball was amazing. Only Maradona could do that.

“Zizou was also a player capable of rising to the occasion in important moments and deciding games.”

Ronaldinho called him his idol, David Beckham said it was a dream to play with the Real Madrid star and Man United legend Paul Scholes said watching him play was like poetry in motion.

Zidane was France’s hero as he scored a brace in their 3-0 win over Brazil

Paul Scholes

Scholes was Manchester United’s star midfielder at the height of Zidane’s success, with the pair facing each other on several occasions in the Champions League.

He said: “To see Zidane in action was to witness poetry in motion. The skills, the vision, the goals… he was a sublime performer.

“When he was at his peak, winning the World Cup, the Champions League and everything in between, he was without a doubt the best player on the planet.”

Ronaldinho called him his idol, David Beckham said it was a dream to play with the Real Madrid star and Man United legend Paul Scholes said watching him play was like poetry in motion.

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Scholes and Zidane praise each other

Ronaldinho

The Brazilian legend is remembered as one of the best players in recent memory, but even he admired Zidane as the man who inspired him to reach such great heights.

“Zidane is one of the best footballers of all time, one of my idols.

He had such elegance and grace, wonderful touch and superb vision.

Ronaldinho called him his idol, David Beckham said it was a dream to play with the Real Madrid star and Man United legend Paul Scholes said watching him play was like poetry in motion.

Getty Images – Getty

Ronaldinho and Zidane are two greats of modern times

David Beckham

Arguably the most famous footballer on the planet, Beckham knows Zidane better than anyone.

The duo spent three years playing together in Real Madrid’s famed Galacticos side, with Golden Balls himself paying the French star the ultimate compliment.

He said: “Training with Zidane for three years was a dream. For me, he’s the greatest player of all time.”

Ronaldinho called him his idol, David Beckham said it was a dream to play with the Real Madrid star and Man United legend Paul Scholes said watching him play was like poetry in motion.

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Beckham was able to play with Zidane in his prime

Thierry Henry

Henry was a player who was good enough to have the Stade de France all to himself during his career, such was the level of his talent.

Unfortunately for him, he would have to settle for sharing it with Zidane, a player he described as ‘a god’ after Zizou’s reintroduction to the international fold in 2005.

“In France, everyone realized that God exists and that he is back in the international France team. His name is Zinedine Zidane.

Ronaldinho called him his idol, David Beckham said it was a dream to play with the Real Madrid star and Man United legend Paul Scholes said watching him play was like poetry in motion.

Thierry Henry is France’s top scorer and has shared the international stage with Zidane

Franz Beckenbauer

An all-time great with 103 caps for West Germany and one of the few to have won the World Cup as a player and manager.

It takes something very special to impress someone like Beckenbauer, and Zidane fits the bill.

“Zidane is unique. The ball flows with him. He looks more like a dancer than a football player.

Ronaldinho called him his idol, David Beckham said it was a dream to play with the Real Madrid star and Man United legend Paul Scholes said watching him play was like poetry in motion.

Zidane has been described as a ‘dancer’ by Beckenbauer

Pele

Arguably the greatest player of all time, Pelé is the man every footballer would love to surpass.

In the words of the Brazilian legend, Zidane may have done just that.

He said: “Zidane is the master. In the last 10 years there has been no one like him, he has been the best player in the world.

Ronaldinho called him his idol, David Beckham said it was a dream to play with the Real Madrid star and Man United legend Paul Scholes said watching him play was like poetry in motion.

AFP

Pelé, one of football’s greats, described Zidane as ‘a master’

Magic Johnson

Basketball legend Johnson was impressed after watching Zidane shine as Real Madrid beat Deportivo La Caruna 3-1 at the Bernabeu.

Speaking about his performance, he said, “One of the most inspiring nights of my life.

“Zidane is a phenomenon, as good as me and Michael Jordan put together.”

Ronaldinho called him his idol, David Beckham said it was a dream to play with the Real Madrid star and Man United legend Paul Scholes said watching him play was like poetry in motion.

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Magic Johnson was impressed after seeing Zidane in action for Real Madrid

robert carlos

The Brazilian left-back was another key part of Real Madrid’s Galacticos squad in the early 2000s.

Despite being one of the many stars in the squad, Carlos believes Zidane was the icing on the cake.

“He’s the best player I’ve seen,” Carlos said. “The fans arrived at the Bernabéu earlier just to see him warming up.”

Ronaldinho called him his idol, David Beckham said it was a dream to play with the Real Madrid star and Man United legend Paul Scholes said watching him play was like poetry in motion.

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Bottom row Roberto Carlos (centre) claimed people used to arrive at the Bernabeu early just to see his amazing team-mate train

Eden Hazard

The Belgian star was able to fulfill his childhood dream of playing for his hero at Real Madrid after admiring Zidane during his playing days.

When asked at Chelsea if he wanted to play under Zidane, Hazard replied: “Yes, of course. When I was little, I watched him on TV and on the internet for hours.

Speaking in a later interview, he added: “It’s the best ever. He was elegant when he played. He wasn’t fast but he could do anything with the ball.

Ronaldo

While enjoying life as a player with Zidane at the Bernabeu, Brazil legend Ronaldo believes Zizou has shown he is as good a manager as he is a player.

“Zizou [Zidane] was the best player I’ve trained and played with, and now he’s become a coach and has won three Champions Leagues in a row.

“That’s why today I ask myself: ‘Who is better, Zidane the player or Zidane the coach? But I can’t answer.”

Ronaldinho called him his idol, David Beckham said it was a dream to play with the Real Madrid star and Man United legend Paul Scholes said watching him play was like poetry in motion.

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Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo were teammates at Real Madrid

talkSPORT LIVE – Don’t miss Brazil and Parlor!

Ronaldinho called him his idol, David Beckham said it was a dream to play with the Real Madrid star and Man United legend Paul Scholes said watching him play was like poetry in motion.

Alan Brazil and Ray Parlor wowed audiences across the country this year with their hilarious double act, live on stage.

This is your last chance to get tickets for the last two shows of the tour, in Newcastle and Nottingham.

Both have lived their lives to the fullest both during their playing days and afterwards during and after their talkSPORT radio show!

Hear the two legends tell stories from the dressing room, the studio, their playing days, their journeys on international duty… and of course Cheltenham!

The shows will be hosted by talkSPORT’s Shebahn Aherne.

Do not miss a good evening belt. Click on the link HERE to buy your tickets.



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