When Zizou’s parents, Smaïl and Malika, emigrated to Paris from the village of Aguemoune in the Berber-speaking region of Kabylie in northern Algeria in 1953, little did they know that they will eventually bring into the world one of the greatest football players it has seen. Fast forward 44 years later, the man Zinedine Yazid Zidane popularly called “Zizou” is one of the most decorated players ever and now the coach of arguably the greatest football club in the world.
Zizou’s career as a player was a spectacle. With a total of 539 matches played, 95 goals scored, 19 trophies won and 3 Ballon D’or awards even as a midfielder, Zinedine Zidane held the footballing world spell-bound for more than a decade. So what practical life and career lessons can be learned from the career of Zizou?
Here are a few I gleaned from these famous quotes about him:
1. “Technically, I think he’s the king of what’s fundamental in the game; control and passing. I don’t think anyone can match him when it comes to controlling or receiving the ball.” – Platini
“He played like a ‘general’ in midfield. He has technique, tricks, passing and also has an ability to score some of the best goals.” — Marco van Basten
Wisdom: In this age of acquiring plenty skills, multitasking and all kinds of distractions, it pays to be a master in your turf. Be a specialist in your own niche, a master of your game and the world will recognize and pay you for it.
2. “When Zidane stepped onto the pitch, the 10 other guys just got suddenly better. It is that simple. It was magic. He was a unique player. He was more than good, he came from another planet. His team-mates became like him when he was on the pitch.” — Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Wisdom: It’s not enough to be the smartest in your team; let it rub off on your team member and the overall team output.
3. “Give me 10 pieces of wood, Zinedine Zidane and I’ll win the Champions League.” – Sir Alex Ferguson
Wisdom: When your boss has this kind of trust and confidence in your abilities, there’s really no limitation to the heights you can attain in your career. But this does not just happen.
4. “I reached this level by sheer dint of hard work, toiling away at scores of tricks and experiments. I used to play with the ball from dawn till dusk and just kept practising. If I wasn’t playing matches, it was trying out one on one or two against two with a tennis ball. Then I used to try aiming at certain targets. That’s the only way to learn. And if I missed the target, I kept trying until I scored.” – Zinedine Zidane
Wisdom: If you want No. 3 above, this is what you must do.
5. “You can’t get bored of winning. You can win 10 games in a row but you keep the same will to snatch the 11th. You always need more.” – Zinedine Zidane
Wisdom: Don’t ever get complacent. There is always more to achieve, more lands to conquer, more records to set and break. Don’t ever feel you have arrived, for it is when you feel it is finished, that it has just begun. Zizou conquered as a player; now he’s unto something bigger – coaching Real Madrid.