Why Did Zinedine Zidane Retire So Early?


In the late 1990s and early 2000s, two footballers were widely considered to be the best in the world: Brazilian Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane. The latter was many neutrals’ favourite player, largely thanks to his 1998 World Cup performances for France and that Champions League final goal for Real Madrid against Bayer Leverkusen. Given his incredible ability on the pitch and worldwide stardom outside of football, why exactly did Zizou call time on his career so early?

Zidane retired because he felt his performances for Real Madrid were not as good as previous seasons. “I didn’t want to go on for another year,” he told Canal+. “The past two years I haven’t been on top form and that’s no good when you play at a club like Real. I’m at an age when it’s more and more difficult every year. I don’t want to spend another year like last year or even the last two years.”

The Frenchman ended his career with a combined 125 goals in 695 games for four clubs: Cannes, Bordeaux, Juventus and Real Madrid. He also scored 35 goals in 138 games at various levels for France, including 31 goals in 108 games for the senior national team.

When did Zinedine Zidane retire?

Zinedine Zidane announced his retirement on April 25, 2006. His final competitive match as a footballer took place on July 9, 2006, when he featured for France against Italy in the 2006 World Cup final.

Zizou’s final farewell to the game ended in disgrace. In extra time of the World Cup final, he received a straight red card for headbutting Italy’s Marco Materazzi. France, without their talisman for the penalty shootout, went on to lose the match on spot-kicks. Zidane previously retired from international football after Euro 2004, but he reversed his decision a year later to help his country qualify for the World Cup.

Real Madrid’s legendary No.5 said goodbye to the club game in more positive circumstances, albeit in defeat. Although Real did not win anything in his final season, Zidane was treated like a king right to the end of his five-year stint with the club. His last competitive match for the Spanish giants ended in a 4-3 loss away to Sevilla on May 16, 2006.

What age did Zinedine Zidane retire?

Zinedine Zidane retired from professional football at the relatively young age of 34. Most world-class midfielders play at least until the age of 35, but Zidane decided to call it quits early.

To put Zizou’s retirement into context, here are the retirement ages of some of his former Real Madrid teammates: Brazilian Ronaldo (34), David Beckham (38), Luis Figo (36), Raul (38), Roberto Carlos (39).

While injury and fitness issues usually force players to retire, that was clearly not the case with Zidane. If he wanted to, the Frenchman could almost certainly have played at a high level for another two or three seasons. However, as he outlined in his retirement announcement, he did not want to keep playing if he could not maintain the same standards as earlier in his career.

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