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Zinedine Zidane wins the Ballon d’Or – the Golden Ball – the best player award – for the 2006 World Cup.
Are you fuckin’ kidding me?
Can someone please cut through the tripe and the hype and actually point these myopic idiots in the right direction?
To set the record straight, Zidane is a fantastic player – the best midfielder the world has seen in the last decade. His form for France, for Juventus and for Real Madrid is the stuff of legends. He is, to most footballers today, the god of football.
But he clearly was not the best player in the French squad this summer, let alone the best player in the World Cup.
Two men will feel especially hard done by this decision – Patrick Vieira and Fabio Cannavaro.
People who credit Zidane with the win against Spain (and France’s dominance against Brazil, Portugal and Italy) do it rightfully – he was the architect behind beating Spain – his free kick created the goal scoring opportunity before he sealed the game with a wonderfully taken goal, France’s 3rd of the match.
But even in that match the foundation for him had been setup by two of the unsung stars of the French squad – Ribery’s equaliser, and Henry’s best impression of Rivaldo to win the free kick. And then it was Vieira who was putting in the crunching tackles along with Makelele and denying Spain any room – and it was Vieira who got to the ball and headed it in the back of the net.
But nothing can take Spain away from Zidane – he was the reason France won in the second round, fair enough. He was also the reason France beat Brazil, his flighted ball finding Henry perfectly at the far corner for the first (and last) Zidane-Henry assist of their careers. And his penalties against Portugal and Italy gave France vital 1-goal leads in crucial games.
All in all, Zidane had a pretty good World Cup…if you assume that France’s World Cup started on 27th June in Hannover against against Spain…and that to in the second half, when he floated that free kick in.
What about Vieira – the man responsible for rescuing France from Group G with that goal against Togo and the wonderful assist for Henry to secure the win? What about the man who cold-checked every single Spanish attack in the second half to allow Ribery and Zidane and Henry to run riot at the Spanish defence?
What about the man who made a joke out of Brazil and Portugal?
To claim that Zidane has had the biggest impact on the World Cup is to be sentimental – to let our judgements cloud the truth and to forget that for the first half of the World Cup and for the very end, Zidane was AWOL. His contributions in between have been magnificent, but none of them would have been possible without Vieira, Makelele, Thuram and Gallas – four French players who were outstanding in every game they played – all 7 of them.
But the biggest travesty in all this has to be denying Fabio Cannavaro the best player award.
The Italian captain, dimunitive height and all, was Italy’s best player throughout the tournament and the primary reason Italy did not let an opposition player score from open play in 7 matches. The two goals they conceded – one was an own goal and the other thanks to a dive from Malouda.
Without Cannavaro, Henry could have scored at least two goals.
Let me put it this way:
Zidane got France from the second round to the final.
Cannavaro got Italy to the final, and helped them WIN it.
Tell me, on that analysis…who was the outstanding player?
Unless, of course, FIFA takes into account media hype (which they evidently did when giving the best young player award to Lukas Podolski), in which Zidane should not only be winning but Cannavaro and co should be stripped of their title and France should be announced as champions.
Oh, and rescind Zidane’s red card too.
Once again, nothing against Zidane – he’s a fantastic player. But the whole love-fest surrounding him becomes sickening when it blinds people to reality.
Note: Zidane’s red card was NOT decided by seeing video replays but by asking the fourth official who had seen the incident with his eyes. What the fourth official was doing watching Zidane is still anyone’s guess…
P.S. The above post is made in anger immediately after finding out that Zidane had been voted Best Player. Considering that issue had been voted on by journalists who were covering the tournament, and almost all of them had been engaged in competitions to see who could write a better ‘glorification’ piece on Zidane and who could condemn Italian football in the most self-righteous fashion, perhaps it’s not such a big surprise to see Zidane win. The masses, they are fuckin’ ignorant and stupid.