Zinedine Zidane is 50 years old, but her magic knows no time. Those who saw him play, those who recovered him through YouTube compilations, everyone has captured his great football. Because Zidane and his football are above time, a representation of an absolute idea of beauty applied to the field, intelligible to anyone who is seduced by art, even before the sport.
Zidane is 50 years old but it is as if his retirement from football – which everyone remembers – had not really changed his size as an absolute champion, because his repertoire of feints, dribbles, veronica, flight controls, acrobatic hooks is constantly being generated. is the closest football experience to listening to a perennial album: the music and the sensations are always the same, even though the band has long since retired.
Zidane is 50 years old but he could be 20 or 80 years old: it is an intergenerational phenomenon, propagated today by the thousands of videos that highlight the most spectacular part. The Twitter account “Stop That Zizou” – which later became converts, with similar accounts dedicated to other players – is a mine of constant wonders, a circumnavigation around the wonder of the champion. Admiring it has the same effect as it did twenty years ago, even though football, the world, and ourselves have changed.
Zidane is 50 years old but has always projected himself into the future: today all the most important footballers have dedicated documentaries, but none of them surpasses the expressive power of Zidane: A Portrait of the 21st Century, a 90-minute feature film built with 17 cameras that captured every moment of the Frenchman during a league match with the Real Madrid shirt. A docu-film that has nothing to do with the canonical themes of climbing to the top, sacrifice, success: there is simply a man framed all the time, often away from the action as he walks tired, all condensed in the spasmodic he waits for the magic to pass.
From Cruijff, Rudolf Nureyev argued that he should have been a dancer. We read inside Bright orange by David Winner: “I was intrigued by his movements, his virtuosity, the way he was able to change direction immediately leaving everyone behind, and doing everything while maintaining perfect control, balance and grace.” If Nureiev had seen Zidane, he would have used the same words: he would have been fascinated by how, in the football of the 1990s that was beginning to anticipate the hyperkinetic tendencies of the modern, Zidane kept elegance and harmony in its purest form. the ground. Brea.
Then there’s this: Zidane is 50, but his football fortune would have blossomed at any time. Zidane played on one level, and especially on one time, which was one and only his: when he touched the ball, it was as if he had the power to suddenly stop everything around him. He could never have ventured into Ronaldo-style kicks, Kaká-style furious walks, or Mbappé-style claustrophobic dribbles. Zidane decided the timing of the match, when he had the ball at his feet: even in today’s hypertrophic football, he could direct plays and maneuvers as he wished.
Zidane is also the last of the attacking midfielders: others came after him, but in the following years no one would have matched the idea of playing there in the middle with the number ten shirt on his shoulders, as before and with him the several that Maradona had done. , Platini, Baggio, Totti. The game would take new forms and incorporate this role under new interpretations, by position on the field of play and powers, as happened to Messi himself. Zidane’s timeless football was, therefore, a temporary break: there is the game before and with him, and there is the game after him. Other champions have probably had more continuity and success than the French, but their way of being on the field has been an unapproachable paradigm and over the years has become antihistorical. And therefore unique.
Zidane was also the last detached player of his time and this is also seen in his tangential history on the field: a shy character, in short, full of contrasts. He played alone and only in Europe, he never measured himself with a different continent when he had the opportunity, he never had the needs of a “brand”, which many of his teammates set up at the time. He resigned at the age of 34, still at his best. Beauty has often gone hand in hand with the dark sides of her character: she has been kicked out 13 times in her career, obviously including the last official match of her life. The inner struggle has further sublimated the outer splendor.
Finally, Zidane’s greatness is not measured in numbers, goals, assists, not even in World Cup wins, he who in any case has conquered one as the protagonist and touched another as the absolute ruler, his legacy brighter and more poignant. Zidane’s greatness is something intangible, which not even individual plays are enough to explain. Magic is not explained, nor is art. Zidane can’t be explained and it wouldn’t make sense to do so. Its myth was fueled by the fact that it was and still is impossible to imitate. Zidane is 50 years old but it doesn’t matter, because someone like him will never go back.