Top 10 sportspeople of the 2000s: 7. Zinedine Zidane

zidaneComing in at number 7 for the best sportsperson of the last decade is French soccer champion Zinedine Zidane.

How could one possibly have a top 10 sportspeople of the decade list without a soccer player, easily the most popular sport in the world. And French legend Zidane has been the best player, in our opinion, over the span of 2000 to 2010. When most people think about more recent amazing players they start to think of the R’s; Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Cristiano Ronaldo. Anyone would think all you need to do is name your children something similar and they are sitting on a soccer gold mine. That is probably half the reason why someone like Zidane has slipped a little under the radar for amazingly great players.

Not that any of the Ronald(inh)o’s weren’t great players, but Cristiano Ronaldo has only just started to show his skill since 2008. Ronaldinho starred from 2004 to 2006 winning multiple awards including FIFA world player of the year in 2004 and 2005, and Ronaldo would have been in the top ten for last decades top 10  players of the decade, but not this one. Only Zidane has managed to be one of the best soccer players over a long period of time this decade, from 2000 up until his retirement in 2006.

He’s record is very impressive. Although not this decade, he helped France win the world cup in 1998, and made the final in 2006. Along with Ronaldo, he is one of only two players to receive the FIFA World Player of the year three times, winning it in years 1998, 2000 and 2003. He came third in this award in 2002 and second in 2006. He made the UEFA Team of the year in 2001, 2002 and 2003, as well as making the FIFPro World XI All-Star team in 2005 and 2006. Had that award been available before 2004, I am sure that Zidane would have made it many more times.

Team wise, he helped Real Madrid win the La Liga in 2002 and 2003, the Spanish Super Cup in 2001 and 2003, The UEFA Champions league in 2001 and 2002 as well as the EUFA European Championship in 2000.

He was that big that even a film has been made about him: Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait.

However most will remember him for his last ever soccer match: The 2006 World Cup Final. Personally I was in Paris at the time, a couple of doors down from the Moulin Rouge, squashed up the back of the bar, standing on a table and someone else’s head, but had a pretty good view of the game, despite a chronically sore back the next day and a stomach full of Kronenbourg.

Zidane scored the opening goal with a penalty kick at the seventh minute mark, but Italy equalised only moments later. Zidane almost won the game in extra time, but his header was just tipped over the cross bar by the Italian goal keeper. But who will forget what happened next.

Italian defender Marco Materazzi decided to mouth off a little, and in reply Zidane turned around and head butted the Italian in the chest, knocking him to the ground. Zidane was instantly red carded for the off the ball discrepancy and because the first person ever to be sent off the field in extra time in a World Cup Final. It probably mattered little, except that he was unable to kick in the penalty goal shoot-off. But it was Zidane’s last game, and France missed out on the world cup victory.

All the people in the bar I was in exited in a flash, leaving me finally able to gasp for oxygen and stand upright. My back has never forgiven me.

However, it was an amazing finish for such an amazing player. Whilst he didn’t have the character and personality of any of the Ronald(inh)o’s, he was, in sportspunter’s opinion, the best soccer player of the last decade, and well worthy of a top ten position at number seven.

Previous Top 10 Sportspeople

8. Serena Williams

9. Kenenisa Bekele

10. Shaquille O’Neal

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5 Responses to Top 10 sportspeople of the 2000s: 7. Zinedine Zidane

  1. chinese says:

    Ronaldo was far better than zidane in 93-99,he was best soccer ever

    Professional career totals
    Teams Appearances Goals Goals per game
    Clubs 483 340 0.704
    National Team 097 062 0.639
    U-23 National Team 08 06 0.750
    Total 588 408 0.694

    [edit] Honors and awards
    [edit] Cruzeiro
    Campeonato Mineiro: 1994
    Brazil Cup: 1993
    [edit] PSV Eindhoven
    Dutch Cup: 1996
    [edit] Barcelona
    Copa del Rey: 1997
    UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup: 1997
    Supercopa de España: 1996
    [edit] Internazionale
    UEFA Cup: 1998
    Serie A : 1998, 2002 Runner-Up
    Coppa Italia: 2000 Runner-Up
    [edit] Real Madrid
    La Liga: 2003; runner-up: 2005,2006
    Intercontinental Cup: 2002
    Supercopa de España: 2003
    [edit] Corinthians
    Campeonato Paulista: 2009
    Brazil Cup: 2009
    [edit] National team
    FIFA World Cup: 1994, 2002; runner-up1998
    Copa America: 1997, 1999; runner-up1995
    FIFA Confederations Cup: 1997
    1996 Summer Olympics: Bronze medal
    [edit] Individual
    Supercopa Libertadores Top Scorer: 1993-94
    Campeonato Mineiro Top Scorer: 1993-94
    Campeonato Mineiro Team of The Year: 1994
    Eredivisie Top Scorer: 1994-95
    La Liga Top Scorer: 1996-97,2003-2004
    European Golden Boot: 1996-97
    Don Balón Award La Liga Foreign Player of the Year: 1996-97
    Copa América Final Most Valuable Player: 1997
    Copa América Most Valuable Player: 1997
    Confederations Cup All-Star Team: 1997
    Cup Winners Cup Final Most Valuable Player: 1997
    Cup Winners Cup Top Goal Scorer: 1996-1997
    IFFHS World’s Top Goal Scorer of the Year: 1997
    UEFA Most Valuable Player: 1997-98
    Serie A Player of the Year: 1997-98
    Serie A Foreign Player of the Year: 1997-98
    UEFA Best Forward: 1997-98
    Bravo Award : 1995, 1997, 1998
    FIFA World Cup Golden Ball: 1998
    UEFA Cup Final Most Valuable Player: 1998
    Copa América Top Scorer: 1999
    Copa América All-Star Team: 1997, 1999
    FIFA World Player of the Year: 1996, 1997, 2002
    Ballon D’or: 1997, 2002
    World Soccer Magazine World Player of The Year: 1996,1997.2002
    Onze d’Or: 1997, 2002
    FIFA World Cup Silver Ball: 2002
    FIFA 100
    FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 1998, 2002
    FIFA World Cup Final Most Valuable Player: 2002
    FIFA World Cup Top Scorer: 2002
    Intercontinental Cup Most Valuable Player: 2002
    UEFA Team of The Year: 2002
    Laureus Comeback of the Year: 2002
    Strogaldo De Legendary Award 2002
    BBC Sports Personality of the Year Overseas Personality: 2002
    La Liga South American Player of the Year: 1996-97, 2002-03
    Golden Foot: 2006
    Brazilian National Hall of Fame inducated: Class of 2006
    Serie A Player of the Decade: 1997-2007
    France Football Magazine : Starting in 11 of all time: 2007
    FIFA World Cup All-Time Scoring Leader
    Campeonato Paulista Best Player: 2009

    RONALDO in 1998 was far better than zidane,zidane only one match:
    Ronaldo voted Best Player at France 98( Monday 27 July 1998
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    Brazil’s Ronaldo has been voted as the best player of the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

    Ronaldo came out top in the traditional poll organised by adidas, one of the official sponsors of the World Cup, among the media accredited to cover the 64-match finals. He received 21.3% of the votes cast.

    He was followed by Davor Suker of Croatia (10.8%) and Lilian Thuram of France (8.8%). The three players receive the Golden, Silver and Bronze Ball trophies respectively.

    The top ten players in the voting were :

    1. Ronaldo, BRA

    2. Davor Suker, CRO

    3. Lilian Thuram, FRA

    4. Marcel Desailly, FRA

    5. Rivaldo, BRA

    6. Zinedine Zidane, FRA

    7. Michael Owen, ENG

    8. Edgar Davids, HOL

    9. Dunga, BRA

    10. Dennis Bergkamp, HOL

    Previous winners of the Golden Ball have been Romario (1994), Lothar Matthäus (1990), Diego Maradona (1986), and Paolo Rossi (1982).

  2. sportpunter says:

    Hi chinese, not doubting that ronaldo was the better player in the 90s, but this is the 2000s

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