Considered by many as one of the greatest footballers of all-time, Zinedine Zidane captivated fans with his elegance, incredible vision and jaw-dropping technique. The French magician captured numerous individual honors and won some of the game's biggest trophies. Yet, there were many controversial episodes during Zidane's his illustrious career. As France's proudest son gets ready to embark on his new journey, -- Zidane was recently name Real Madrid manager earlier this week -- we take a look back at the most memorable moments in Zizou's career. -- FOXSoccer.com's Charles Ventura and Alberto Moreno.
AFP/Getty ImagesGERARD JULIEN
Unleashing the dragon
A six-week trial turned into a four-year professional relationship when the young phenom joined Cannes at the tender age of 14. Zizou made his pro debut three years later in 1989 in a French Division 1 match against Nantes. Zidane eventually helped Cannes secure their first-ever European football berth (UEFA Cup) in his first full season with the Red Dragons.
Zizou sticks with Les Bleus
After the reported back and forth regarding his eligibility, Zidane decided to stick with France and got his first call-up with Les Tricolores' senior squad in a friendly against Czech Republic on Aug. 1994. The move to bring Zidane onboard proved pivotal as France's transformation was taking shape after their disastrous 1994 World Cup qualifying campaign.
AFP/Getty ImagesFRANK PERRY
Earning his stripes at Bordeaux
Linking up with France teamates Bixente Lizarazu and Christophe Dugarry, Zidane made his imprint with Bordeaux after sealing his move from Cannes in 1992. Scoring 28 goals in 139 appearances during his four-year spell with the club, Zidane was instrumental in Bordeaux's success during the 1990s as the club captured the 1995 Intertoto Cup and finished runner-up to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Cup (95-96).
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Accepts bigger challenge with move to Juventus
Wth word of his talents and exploits spreading across Europe, Zidane joined Italian giants Juventus in 1996. The impact, as it turned out, was immediate as Zizou carried Juve to the Serie A title and Intercontinental Cup in his first season. The fun didn't stop there for Zidane with Juve claiming an additional Scudetto the following season and the Old Lady making three-consecutive UEFA Champions League Final appearances.
Action Images / ReutersClaudio Papi
Not all is sunny with France
Despite enjoying success at the club level, Zidane's world-class form didn't translate immediately on the international scene with France. Les Bleus made up for their 1994 disappointment with a last-four finish at Euro 1996 after France was KO'd from the tournament in penalties vs. the Czech Republic. As it turned out, the experience made Zizou a stronger and more complete footballer as evidenced by his feat two years later.
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Capturing World Cup gold in 1998
Zidane was the mastermind behind France's memorable World Cup run on home soil. Zidane's lowest point came when he was sent off in the second group stage match vs. Saudi Arabia to win the distinction of being the first French player to receive a red card in a World Cup. All was forgiven of course when Zidane scored twice in France's 3-0 demolition over Brazil in the title match and instantly becoming a national hero in the process.
AFP/Getty ImagesACHIM SCHEIDEMANN
1998 turned out to be a special year for the French magician as Zidane was named FIFA World Player of the Year and won the Ballon d'Or -- becoming the third French player to win the award with Raymond Kopa, Michel Platini and Jean-Pierre Papin being the others.
AFP/Getty ImagesJACQUES DEMARTHON
Celebrating Y2K in style
Two years following his triumph in Paris, Zidane carried the defending World Cup champs to the European Championship in 2000, helping his team become the first team to hold the World Cup and Euro titles since West Germany accomplished the feat in 1974. Zizou's mesmorizing free kick against Spain in the quarterfinal and his golden goal vs. Portugal in the semifinal allowed to Zidane to win UEFA's Player of the Tournament award.
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Joins Real Madrid's Galatico movement
After shining for five years with Juventus, the French magician joined Spanish giants Real Madrid in 2001 for a then world record fee of $82 million. Appearing alongside Florentino Perez (L) and club legend Alfredo Di Stefano (R), Zidane was the second blockbuster signing in Perez's Galácticos project, the idea of buying one world-class superstar player each summer during the transfer season. Immediate success followed as Zidane would later capture his first UEFA Champions League title in 2002.
Action Images / ReutersAndrea Comas
The goal heard around the world
Words simply don't do it justice. Zidane had won everything in his career except the UEFA Champions League, but in 2002, Real Madrid defeated Bayern Leverkusen 2-1 thanks in large part to Zidane's heroics. Zizou amazingly scored his famous match-winning goal, a left-footed volley via a Roberto Carlos cross. The goal, as it turned out, is widely considered as the greatest goal in Champions League history. A true beauty.
Getty ImagesGary M. Prior
What goes up must come down
Proving life isn't all beer and skittles, Zidane's entered the 2002 World Cup less than a 100% percent after suffering a thigh injury before the tournament. Despite his injury, France were still considered favorites and were expected to repeat. It proved not to be the case as France's shocking World Cup exit in the group stage was the worst performance by a defending champion in history as Les Bleus failed to register a single goal in the competition.
Action Images / ReutersJerry Lampen
End of an era
Zidane, who had announced his plans to retire after the 2006 World Cup, played his farewell match for Real Madrid on May 7, 2006. He ended Real Madrid career as the club's second highest goal-scorer and assists behind teammates Ronaldo and David Beckham that season, with nine goals and ten assists in 28 appearances to his credit. 80,000 attended his last match at the Santiago Bernabeu and memorably held up a banner reading, "Thanks for the magic" in honor of his contributions to the beautiful game.
AFP/Getty ImagesPIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU
And the head-butt seen by entire world
France struggled to qualify for the 2006 World Cup after the key departures of Bixente Lizarazu, Marcel Desailly, Claude Makélélé and Lilian Thuram from the squad but Zidane eventually led Les Bleus to the World Cup final against Italy. After putting France ahead in the match with a penalty kick, Zidane became the fourth player in World Cup history to score in two different finals; joining Pele, Paul Breitner and Vava with that distinction. However, joy turned into disaster as Zizou was famously sent off in the 110th minute after headbutting Marco Materazzi in the chest. The act made headlines around the world and overshadowed his brillaint career for some time as evidenced by the unforgettable and absolutely massive statue that immortalizes Zidane’s infamous headbutt in Qatar.