While believing 1998 was not his best year as a footballer, Zinedine Zidane has conceded he wanted to be recognised as the best player in the world.
Zidane was a talismanic figure on French soil as Les Bleus claimed their first World Cup, scoring two goals in the final against Brazil and propelling him to the Ballon d’Or.
Despite going on to scale further heights in football at both club and international level, it remained the only year he ever won the prestigious individual award.
Speaking to L’Equipe to mark his 50th birthday, Zidane revealed it is one of the few trophies he kept from an exceptional playing career, while admitting he particularly wanted the status in the game that accompanied it.
“Because I give everything, I am able to offer everything,” he said. “I have almost nothing at home from my career. Two or three objects. I am not at all conservative or materialistic. When I want to see souvenirs, I go to Marseille [where his parents live]. I don’t live with it.
“I was a little overconfident the weeks before the vote. I got a little fired up in a few interviews. I’ve never been one to say, ‘I deserve this or that,’ but with this Ballon d’Or, in 1998, I told myself a little bit. It wasn’t really me but I really wanted to have it.
“I was the best player in the world. It does not happen often, and to me only once. There may be preferences in the votes but when you have it, you have it. You are the best player in the world at this time, and it’s beautiful.”
Un très joyeux anniversaire à 2 grands Bleus !