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Passing through Paris for the « All Bleu » Adidas event with athletes from many other sports (judo, basketball, etc…) Zinedine Zidane took the time, between two photoshoots, to look back, in detail, on his relationship with his two sons who became footballers : Luca, recently crowned European champion with the French U17 team, and Enzo, his eldest son, who he coaches in Madrid.
- You are here to take part in an Adidas meeting with many other sportsmen. How important were other sports than football during your career ?
- It’s very strange because for a long time, I told myself that I could not have played an individual sport. In my family, Judo is quite big, my brother is a black belt and was a French champion. I wasn’t too bad either (ed note : blue belt). I also always loved tennis, Roland-Garros, etc…but I’ve always told myself I couldn’t play an individual sport. The sportsman’s loneliness scares me. When you win, it’s alright, but when you lose, you’re alone. And when you lose alone, you go home alone, you travel alone. I’ve always admired the guys who could cope with that. You’ve prepared all season for something, and in the end, you get knocked out in the first round and you’re alone…it must be hard ! But then again, today, I’m a manager. And when you’re a manager, well, you’re alone. I was a player, so I’ve never ignored the difficulties of the job. In fact, I’ve always been lenient with my managers. Even when I saw that their message wasn’t too clear, it wasn’t a big deal, I knew what I had to do on the pitch. And I also knew how difficult it was to be a manager. But in the end, that’s what I wanted to do, I wanted to pass on knowledge.
- What kind of manager are you ?
- I am myself. I’m not someone who speaks much, and I’m not going to start speaking more just because I became a manager. I hear people say : « you have to be strict », « you have to be ruthless », « you have to be this, you have to be that ». Personally, I don’t think you have to be someone you’re not. If I do « ruthless », it’s not me. It’s the worst thing to do. So I do « me » : I try to be convinced and convincing. That’s it, that’s my new challenge : to pass on my instructions in the clearest way possible, and with my own personality, which is being someone quite reserved. And I’m learning that. I know that it’s in that field, how to communicate your ideas, that I need to improve, to work, but that’s why I wanted to become a manager. To challenge myself, to move on with my life. Because I’m going to say it very clearly : I don’t need to earn more money today. I could very well stay at home, I don’t need to be a manager to put food on the table. But I also want to question myself, and to grow up. I’ve got children, I’ve got messages I want to pass on.
- Speaking about your children…Luca has won the U17 European Championship and you’re coaching Enzo…How did you live Luca’s recent success ?
- His small success.
- Yes, well, he’s a European champion, at his age, it was hard to do better than that!
- Yes, it’s still a small success. I’m not underestimating it, he’s an U17 European champion, it’s already better than what I did ! In any case, I told him : « If you don’t win the U17 European Championship, you’re not coming home ! » (laughs)
- Luca tried a Panenka during the penalty shootout of the Euros’ semi-final. Did it surprise you?
- Honestly, we hadn’t spoken about it. I wasn’t even in front of the TV, I was on a plane, following the penalty shootout on my phone. We were about to take off. What surprised me, is that he was among the first five players to take a penalty. Generally, the goalkeeper comes afterwards. When I saw, n°4, Luca Zidane, I told myself : « What on earth is he doing ? » And he misses. Then, I was like : « Fuck… » I was on the plane, with my phone, can you imagine ? (He mimes the gesture of smashing his phone). And after that, the shootout becomes crazy. If he doesn’t stop the next penalty, it’s over. So, at that moment, you get quite emotional, if you know what I mean. When I saw that he stopped the fifth Belgian penalty, I was relieved. The fool…
- Have you talked about it afterwards ?
- Yes, he called me when I landed, and told me that he tried to hit a Panenka. I don’t know what went through his head. He certainly thought about what I had done in the 2006 World Cup final. I imagine that for him, there was something there. But I told him : « You really had to stop these penalties because if you miss your Panenka, and you don’t stop the penalties, listen to me buddy, you know how the media are praising you right now, they would’ve ruined you in the same way, I hope you’re aware of that. » Right, but at the same time, it’s positive : big character. Very very big character. 17 years old, afraid of nothing…It’s not Daddy. In the sense that I wasn’t playing smart, at 17. But then, it’s life…And you get confident on the pitch…But at 17…He’s relaxed, I’d say. He doesn’t ask himself too many questions, he’s completely detached, and he takes his chances. It suits me. No problem.
- Would it suit you as a manager as well ?
- Ha, ha, ha, no, then, it would’ve been different ! Very different, I tell you !! (laughs)
- Because you coach Enzo…If Enzo had done it ?
- At the same time, I tell you that if I had been his coach, it would’ve been different, but truly, the player takes his responsibility. When I did it in the World Cup final, people said : « He’s a madman… » But I’m not that crazy. It would have been crazy if I had taken it as usual with Buffon in front of me. Then, yes, I would have been a madman. But for me, I wasn’t taking any risks with the Panenka. Well, I almost missed it, but that’s another story. The linesman was good, he could have called it out, the ball didn’t fall too far behind the line.
- So how do you behave with Enzo then ?
- I’m stricter than with the others. It’s unfair, but that’s the way it is, I can’t help it. I’ve told him. I know he knows. We talk about it. It can only do him good, that’s what I tell myself. But I’ve been hard on him, because this season, I haven’t played him much. He could have played more, but I haven’t played him…
- Was it to protect him ?
- No. He knows the media are expecting him, he knows all of that, I don’t need to protect him, we’ve talked about that as well. He knows where he is. My sons know what’s ahead of them.