The former N.10 invited his World Cup coronation teammates to his new five-a-side football complex, near his native land.
On July 12, 1998, they brought football France its first star: 25 years later to the day, Zinédine Zidane gathered around him a dozen world champions on Wednesday for a small tournament and, in this game , “ZZis always the strongest.
For several years, the alumni of 1998 meet regularly, in private or for charitable operations. On Wednesday, they responded to Zidane’s invitation for a day at his five-a-side football complex in Aix-en-Provence, near Marseille, the idol’s birthplace.
Started with a few games of padel between world champions, the day ended with a paying gala dinner and a concert. But the highlight was the football tournament open to teams set up by companies, mainly local, having reserved a table for dinner.
Zinédine Zidane signs autographs in Aix-en-Provence CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP
To each team, the draw awarded a 1998 world champion among those present: Didier Deschamps, Christian Karembeu, Christophe Dugarry, Bernard Diomede, Alain Boghossian, Bixente Lizarazu, Lionel Charbonnier, Fabien Barthez and, of course, Zidane.
On the ground, the N.10 seeks to the left, always, but of course without forcing. And when he accelerates, he connects sombrero, chest drop and volley for a nice goal from the right.
«We see that he has an exceptional ball touch. It’s the best“, tells AFP the lucky Anthony, scorer on a decisive pass from the master.
A little further, Karembeu does not say anything else. “Duga and Liza are still pretty good and DD is present. But Zidane is another planet. It was the strongest 25 years ago and it still is».
The former midfielder of the Blues and Real Madrid also tells how important these moments are, for the former students of Aimé Jacquet as for the general public.
The victory in the final against Brazil (3-0) “united France and days like this make it possible to mark the occasion. We also know that it continues to inspire other generations and Didier was the relay of the star in 2018“, he explains.
Fabien Barthez, Bixente Lizarazu, Zinédine Zidane, Didier Deschamps, Christian Karembeu, Bernard Diomede. CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP
«We continue to meet people who tell us + ah, July 12, 98, I was there! + It remains a fabulous emotion“, confirms the current coach of the France team, crowned as coach in 2018 after having been as captain 25 years ago.
And for Boghossian, who recognizes that “golf is now easier than football” for him, “the years go by and we still want to share and vibrate a little».
“It was good”
Around the field and in brutal heat, the 98 sign autographs and jerseys, like some other big names in French football, sometimes less recognized by the youngest, like Jean Tigana or Henri Emile, member of the staff during the World victorious.
The announcer, for his part, confuses Charbonnier and Boghossian and blames the passage of time and the falling hair: “You guys all have the same haircut now!».
The atmosphere is festive and masks even small enmities. “We are a family“says Diomedes. “We never left each other“adds Barthez. Deschamps and Dugarry, all the same, rarely cross paths. But, we promise in the entourage of the champions “they played padel together this morning».
Zinedine Zidane CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP
The master of the place, he savors it. “We would like to see each other more often but it is sometimes complicated. Meeting like this, being with friends, it’s fun and it makes us all feel goodZidane explained.
«98, it changed my life, adds the former playmaker of the Blues. And people remember 98, today they came to see the guys from 98.»
Earlier, Zidane had summed up in a few simple words the weight of these 25 years. “We’re not going to talk all the time about 98. But hey, we did it and it was good.»
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