116street Soccer

Footballing from a lesser authority...

Location: New York, New York

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Farewell, Zizou

I am sad now. As I have stated before, Sports Illustrated's '98 World Cup preview was my introduction to the stars of this game, and from the very beginning, my curiosity was piqued by this Frenchman with the unpronounceable name and touted skills. SI told me that he would be the hero of the tournament, and when his first header found its way to the back of the Brazilian net, I knew (without really knowing) that an upset for the ages was in the works. For the very first time, my imagination had been captured by a soccer player.
Juventus never came on American TV during the years before FOX Soccer Channel, so I had to approximate his skills on FIFA '98. I knew a guy in school who knew nothing of soccer, same as me, but couldn't get enough of The Old Lady in that game. "Juventus is the best team!" he would say. "They have that guy Del Piero, and Inzaghi, and that other guy, the best one, Zee-who? How do you say it? Zee-dan-ee? Zee-den-ay? Zee-dann? Zee-DAHN! That guy!" He started hanging Juve stuff on his walls, had a Juve background for his computer; he was bianconeri through and through, and he didn't even know it. He probably didn't even know about the sale until FIFA 2002 came out, now that I think about it (I can just imagine him choosing Juventus in that game and having a major "WTF?" moment: "Where the hell is Zidane?" he would ask before chucking his controller across the room).
The sale was pretty much a watershed moment for a lot of people, but for me it meant that I could finaly watch him perform his magic, because Real Madrid's Champions League exploits were always on ESPN2 in the afternoon. There he was, spinning away from a confused defender. Look at him, finding Raul for yet another magical assist. He was, without a doubt, the best player on a squad full of great ones; he was the French/Armenian Algerian embodiment of Michael Jordan, and when he scored that goal in '02, I got the same feeling as I did when Mike hit that last shot against Utah.
Now, he is leaving. He's not gone just yet, he will treat us to one last World Cup before he goes, but to me it feels as if he is already gone. After all, how much life could he possibly have left in those creaky legs come June? Playing as one of the Galacticos has dulled his impact somewhat, but he can still have an impact, so perhaps he can help France achieve glory once more. Soon he will be gone though, and with him will go his grace, humility and superior skill. He was the world's greatest, and my favorite player. I am sad.


Blogger Chump said...

Hey man, nice blog, but one correction, Zidane is not Armenian, he's North African and his religion is Islam. The Armenian player on that amazing 1998 team was Youri Djorkaeff, now plying his trade over in the swamp.

9:43 PM  
Blogger Z. Jackson said...

Thanks for the correction, hope you stop by again...

11:33 PM  
Blogger brucio said...

back in those dark days before fox soccer channel you could occassionally see the mighty zizou and his juve play in the champions league on espn
he will be missed greatly
nice work on the weblog - go for it!

12:00 AM  

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