In the mid 90s and greater part of 2000, world football witnessed a Frenchman dance with the ball. He would be considered as the greatest midfielder of all-time by many. In France, he is like a God and he holds the same status in Real Madrid and Juventus.
Zinedine Zidane was certainly a player to watch.
In Marca, former teammates of Zidane shared their opinion about playing with the great man.
Fernando Hierro (Center-back: Spain and Real Madrid)
“He came from another league, from understanding football in a different way, but as soon as he touched the ball, you knew how good he was and what he was capable of doing.
“Zizou doesn’t deceive anyone. He is what you see. He doesn’t have another side”.
“He arrived as a quiet, shy person, but because of the way he is and out of respect, he limited himself in training and in being with his teammates. He’s like that, transparent”.
“I remember his elegance and simplicity”.
Paolo Montero (Center-back: Uruguay and Juventus)
“It was impossible not to love him”.
“He was an individual and humble leader, the humblest I’ve known”.
“He was a top teammate, the best. He made the impossible look easy”.
Walter Samuel (center-back: Argentina and Real Madrid)
“The image I have of him is one of a very calm person, committed to his family and with so much humility”.
“You definitely learn from players like him”.
“Despite playing in a different position, I was also interested in watching how he moved, how he dribbled and always how he received the ball in a good position to be able to make the decisive final pass”.
Alvaro Mejia (Center-back: Spain and Real Madrid)
“I had the privilege of playing with Zidane. At the time, he was the best player in the world and sharing training sessions with him was amazing”.
“Each day, there was something new. A new control, a new dribble, a new shot, something that would surprise you”.
“It was amazing to watch him play, so imagine watching him every day in training”.
“He was a very competitive person”.
“Very closed, but competitive to the full. He liked to win and he was a very humble person off the pitch. This balance always seemed brilliant to me”.
“For a young kid, which is what I was, having that type of role model and seeing how he acts on and off the pitch is something you focus on and something that stays with you for the rest of your sporting career”.
“It was a privilege and a dream too. Total admiration”.
Santiago Solari (Midfielder: Argentina and Real Madrid)
“He’s one of the greatest figures in Real Madrid. You can’t put him into words. He’s incomparable. Let’s leave him there, in his greatness”.
Alessandro del Piero (Forward: Italy and Juventus)
“During my career, I met many great players. Defenders like Paolo Maldini, [Fabio] Cannavaro, [Paolo] Montero, forwards like [Filippo] Inzaghi, [Francesco] Totti… but Zidane was the most incredible of them all”.
“Zidane represents pure football. He showed that with Juve, Real Madrid and his national team”.
David Beckham (Midfielder: England and Real Madrid)
“Zidane’s last training session was very special”.
“We were alone in the dressing room and he sat down beside me and said to me: ‘Thank you for everything you’ve done, for being a teammate of a marvelous team.’
Florentino Perez (Real Madrid President)
“Zidane is a blessing for Real Madrid”.