Words: Josh Millar
Images: Offside Sports Photography
What do you reckon you’d have to do to become a better footballer? What would you give up?
Those Saturday morning Uber Eats Maccies breakfasts will have to go for sure. You can probably stop having twelve pints ‘by accident’ on a Friday as well. Maybe you could start running, get that fitness up, even though it’s boring. Zinedine Zidane will tell you it takes a lot more than that, though. A lot, lot more.
It was tough at the start, while he was growing up in La Castellane, one of the toughest districts of Marseille. "It was clear to me from the start," he told OTRO in an exclusive interview. "All I wanted to do was play football. But I had difficulties at school, and my parents told me off.I knew full well that I didn't have an ideal attitude. Then, one day they told me: 'we know you have something on your mind, so do what you want to do.”
OTD in 1991, Zinedine Zidane scored his first professional goal. pic.twitter.com/kDe16tJedH— MUNDIAL (@MundialMag) February 10, 2019
Once he sorted himself out at school, he gained his parent’s permission to pursue a career as a professional footballer. “I focused on giving everything to achieve what I wanted to. On arriving at Cannes, I saw professionals training and told myself: 'I want to do this.'” From this moment on, I did everything I could to become the best."
Zidane changed his entire lifestyle in order to fulfil all of his potential at Cannes. "I slept well, I wasn't an idiot going around bars, I only drank water and did stretches," he said. "I put everything into becoming the best player possible; I had to do it at all costs. This is how I could make my parents happy because it was my life, but I also did it to make them proud.”
He admits it was very different during that era of football; you had to do everything you could to stand out in the late 80s in order to make it. "To make yourself known, and then play, you had to be good, not like today,” he said. “First you had to show that you were different to everyone else because at the time there were a limited number of players—only one or two youngsters per team.
"Today it's all changed: it goes much quicker, and as for the players, they're no longer afraid of making mistakes."