Zidane: La elegancia del héroe sencillo - Enrique Ortego

I have to admit that, nowadays, I know almost nothing about Football: who is the best player, which one is the best team, who is top in the Premier League, etc. But there has been a time when I watched ESPN religiously: Mondays and Tuesdays, for the summaries of the weekend and interviews with the players; Thursdays and Friday, for the clips of players training; weekends, for the games.

Anyone who likes Football (or soccer, as US citizens like to call it), must read this book. I don’t think there is no one who did not like Zinedine Zidane. Zizou. Sports commentators liked to call him The Wizard. The Director Orchestra. Harry Potter.

I’ll give my best to review this wonderful book, because my knowledge of Football terms in English language is very poor.

Prologue of Michel Platini and Florentino Pérez
Who would have thought I would be this touched by the words of Florentino Pérez? I used to dislike him; he was too ambitious and did not care about the players; only about winning and making profit. But his article clearly shows he truly cared for Zidane. And it seems he still does.

Chapter 1: Voulez vous jouer au Real Madrid
I haven’t been this sensitive since KAT-TUN became a 4-member group. Real Madrid used to be my obsession. Youtube was a constant companion for the reading. A great excuse to re-watch the games and the players I love so much. Those magnificent goals! Against Deportivo, against Bayer Leverkusen, against Tokyo Verdy, against Racing de Santander. Zidane playing with the best players of the world: Figo, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Beckham. Los Galácticos, as they used to be known.

The chapter starts with his earlier days at the Sporting Club of Montecarlo, at the Juventus, and then, Real Madrid. The victories and the defeats. His bad and good days. Finally, his last game in Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. Which was heart-breaking. The video I watched certainly helped me to use some tissues. Zizou in tears, the whole audience cheering for him, and that female reporter that tried to talk to him and who also shed some tears. The messages from fans. Awwww.

Chapter 2: De la Castellane a la Castellana
His childhood, his first steps in Football. A more detailed chapter about his days in Juventus.

Chapter 3: Champion of the world and of Europe
His victories with the French National Team, both in Euro Cup and World Cup. World Cup ’98 was bittersweet in my case, because France eliminated my National Team, and to re-watch that defeat in Youtube was… heart-breaking.

World Cup 2006. That Panenka penalty was amazing. The first time I watched it on TV it almost gave me a heart attack. I was rooting for France, obviously. Did not like Italy that year, at all. Then the incident happened, and when Trezeguet missed his shot… ohhh, I don’t want to go there again. It is too painful, especially for a great and humble man as Zizou to end his career as a Football player like that.

Chapter 4: Así jugaba un talento natural
His elegance, his technical secrets. The Roulette, where he was a Master. His dribble, where he was untouchable. His passes, because he was unselfish, and he always played for his team, never alone. His penalty. His free-kicks. His awards as individualist player.

Chapter 5: Así lo ven, un reconocimiento internacional
Comments from people who know him: players, DTs, former coaches, physical trainers, family, friends. Too bad not all his team at Real Madrid could comment, like Roberto Carlos or Beckham. And I was expecting something longer from Figo, but well. Some of them moved me deeply, like Ronaldo’s (his comment about the roulette and of his own “bicycle”, or how nice Zizou has been when Ronaldo was hurt); Frédéric Hermel, a journalist (that last paragraph where he tells how he cried in Zizou’s last game); Claude Makelele’s, who has been not only his mate in the National team and in Real Madrid, but a close friend; Medina Cantalejo, the referee who witnessed his head-butt in the World Cup.

Zidane was, and still is, a very humble, simple, nice guy. Shy and serious. He played because he loved to, not because he wanted to be famous or to show off (unlike some of the current player, and yes, CR is certainly one of them). To me, football has not been the same since he, along with Figo, has retired. I lost interest. I miss his roulette, Figo’s and Ronaldo’s bicycle, Roberto Carlos’ tiny steps to shot his free-kick; the wonderful passes from Guti, Raúl so proud to be Captain of the White team, Beckham’s corners.

To finish my review, I only have to say I am grateful I knew Zidane and the rest of Los Galácticos at the right time. XD