France’s Zinedine Zidane, one of the greatest footballers in the history of the sport, was presented with the coveted Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Abu Dhabi.
Zidane was the brightest star in the flamboyant French team which won the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 European Championship and ranks as one of the greatest players in the history of football. He is one of just two players, along with Ronaldo, to win the FIFA World Player of the Year Award on three occasions.
He was a big game player who always rose to the occasion. In the 1998 World Cup final in Paris, Zidane scored twice in the 3-0 victory over Brazil. Two years later France won the European Championship, becoming the first team to hold both the World Cup and the European Championship since West Germany in 1974. Again Zidane showed his temperament by scoring the golden goal in the semi-final against Portugal. He was named player of the tournament by UEFA.
In 2006, Zidane announced his retirement from international football after France were knocked out of the European Championship by Greece in 2004. But a little over a year later, with France experiencing serious problems in qualifying for the 2006 World Cup, Zidane announced that he would come back to help the team and he was reinstated as captain in August 2005. Under Zidane’s leadership, France not only qualified for the World Cup in Germany, but reached the final where they only lost in a penalty shoot-out in the final to Italy.
Zidane's first French club was Cannes, for whom he played for four years before moving to Bordeaux in 1992. Between 1996 and 2001 he played 151 games for Juventus, winning two Serie A championships, before moving to Real Madrid for a world record fee of €75 million for the final years of his career. There he scored a famous match-winning goal in Real’s 2–1 win over Bayer Leverkusen in the 2002 Champions League Final.
Zidane was the son of Algerian immigrants who moved to France and he never lost sight of his background. He is a massive supporter of charity events and fund-raising matches around the world, including the biennial Soccer Aid match. He has also been a United Nations goodwill ambassador since 2001.