Perhaps the greatest midfielder of all time, Zinedine Zidane has built a monumental legacy in football. As he continues to excel at the managerial level with Real Madrid, we enjoy looking back on his extraordinary career as a player. Zidane’s days on the pitch came at a time of transformation in the beautiful game. As his style of play evolved, so did the style of the kits he wore. To celebrate one of our favorite players in history, here are our top five greatest Zidane jerseys, symbolizing pivotal moments in his career:
1995-96 Bordeaux Zidane Home Kit
Kicking off our list is the 1995-96 home shirt from FC Girondins de Bordeaux. This time marked Zidane’s fourth and final season at the club, a period of tremendous growth. At only 23 years old, Zizou was voted player of the season in the French top flight, despite his club finishing 16th in the league, only four points above relegation. He would transfer to Juventus in the summer of 1996, departing France with an impressive 196 league appearances between his final two seasons at Cannes and four seasons at Bordeaux.
Playing as a box-to-box midfielder in the 1995-96 season, Zidane managed six goals and two assists in the league, as well as one goal and three assists in a remarkable UEFA Cup campaign. Zidane played a key role in a thrilling victory over European heavyweights AC Milan, and Bordeaux would push on to reach the UEFA Cup Final, where they faced Bayern Munich.
The 1996 UEFA Cup Final was a two-leg fixture. Having already expressed a desire to leave Bordeaux, Zidane was not selected to play in the first match, and his club lost decisively 0-2. Zidane played the full 90 minutes in the second leg, but again Bayern was victorious at 1-3, securing the trophy on aggregate 1-5, as heavy favorites. This game against Bayern was Zidane’s last at Bordeaux, ending his French club career in defeat. His profound skill at a young age won the attention of fans and clubs around the world. With the clear potential to achieve greatness, it was time for Zinedine Zidane to leave Bordeaux behind and join a more formidable football giant.
1996-97 Juventus Zidane Home Kit
Because Juventus FC won the 1996 Champions League, Zidane was most attracted to the Turin side among the many elite teams that submitted transfer bids for him. He joined Juve for a reported fee of about £3 million, a brilliant piece of business for the Italian club, even considering the less inflated football market of the time.
Zidane burst onto the scene and immediately made himself a cornerstone of the squad, amassing 44 appearances across all competitions in his debut season at the club. He was given more freedom to move forward and attack than he had at Bordeaux, and most often played a supporting role behind centre forwards Alessandro del Piero or Christian Vieri. Zidane was a key player in Juve’s 1996-97 Serie A title victory, but his standout performances came in the Champions League that year.
At 24 years old, Zidane made ten appearances in his first-ever Champions League campaign, and notably notched two goals and six assists in that time. Juventus reached the Champions League final for the second year in a row. The match was also Zidane’s second consecutive European final, coming about one year after Bordeaux’s UEFA Cup final defeat to Bayern. Despite his prolific form in the group and knockout stages, Zidane was unable to carry his team to victory against Borussia Dortmund in the 1997 Champions League final. Juve couldn’t overcome a 0-2 deficit at halftime and lost 1-3 at full time.
In a five year stint with Juventus, Zidane would go on to win one more Serie A title, but failed to lift the Champions League trophy with them. He’d leave the Turin side with 212 appearances across all competitions, and a legacy of 31 goals and 36 assists from a midfield role. By the end of his time at Juve, he would further establish himself as one of the best talents in the world.
1998 France World Cup Zidane Kit | See our replica
This stylish French home shirt symbolized some of Zidane’s greatest moments on the pitch. France surprisingly failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup, but automatically gained a spot at the 1998 World Cup as the host nation. The spot was well deserved; they marched to victory with a star-studded squad.
While he only bagged one assist and did not score in France’s first six games, Zidane would leave his mark on World Cup history when they faced Brazil in the final. Twice in the first half, Zidane towered over his opposition to score impressive headers from corner kicks. France entered halftime with a 2-0 lead thanks to Zizou, and would win the final 3-0 at full time.
Alongside his monumental form at the club level for Juventus, Zidane’s performance in the 1998 World Cup was crucial in his nomination for the 1998 Ballon d’Or. Zidane won the highest individual honour in football at 26 years old; he earned a landslide victory in the voting at 244 points, with the next highest scoring candidate at only 68 points. This 1998 France World Cup shirt is an iconic part of Zidane’s legacy, hallmarking a brilliant achievement in the prime days of his career.
2005-06 Real Madrid Zidane Home Kit | See our replica
Fast forward several years, and we reach the final days of Zidane’s career as a player. After a brilliant final season at Juventus, Zidane signed for Real Madrid in the summer of 2001 at a record-breaking transfer fee of about £46.5 million. He was a fundamental playmaker in the sensational first Galácticos era of Real Madrid football, winning one Champions League and one La Liga title in his first four seasons at the club.
This 2005-06 shirt marked Zidane’s fifth and final season at Real Madrid, the last days of his playing career. A classic Los Blancos design, with minimal decoration aside from the shirt sponsor, club badge, and simple striped pattern across the shoulders. Despite not winning any trophies in this final campaign, Zidane still finished in strong form, scoring nine goals and assisting eleven times across 29 league appearances. Zizou bridged the gap between veterans of an old guard Real Madrid, and young players rising through the ranks, who would fill their boots and bring the club to new heights. His time at the club overlapped with many world-class talents, including Roberto Carlos, Fernando Hierro, Iker Casillas, Raúl, Ronaldo Nazário, Luis Figo, David Beckham, and Sergio Ramos. He ended his Real Madrid career with 227 appearances across all competitions, distinguished by 49 goals and 68 assists.
2006 France World Cup Zidane Away Kit | See our replica
For most football fans, our final pick in this list likely comes as no surprise. After announcing his retirement from club football, it was no secret that Zidane intended to finish his career at the national level, playing for France in the 2006 World Cup. Fans watched the tournament with great anticipation, as Zidane barely played in the previous 2002 World Cup due to injury, and France crashed out without scoring a single goal.
France did not start the tournament as well as they’d hoped, with their opening two games ending in draws. Still, a 2-0 victory in their third match against Togo ensured a 2nd place finish in the group, and they advanced. France decisively won their Round of 16 matches 3-1 against Spain, a strong show of form. They managed tight 1-0 victories in each of their following knockout games against Brazil and Portugal, landing them a spot in the final, where they faced Italy.
In the first six games of the 2006 World Cup, Zidane was a marquee player with two goals and two assists. He slotted away an early penalty in the seventh minute of the final to give France a 1-0 lead, but Italian defender Marco Materazzi equalized only twelve minutes later. No goals were scored in the remainder of regular time, and the match went into extra time at 1-1.
In the ensuing extra time, Zidane was involved in one of the most infamous moments of football history. During a stoppage of play, Materazzi called out to Zidane as he trotted away. Supposedly, Zidane had just said to Materazzi, “I’ll give you my shirt later.”
“I’d rather have your sister than your shirt,” was Materazzi’s reply. For fourteen years, the exact words exchanged were a mystery, surrounded by unconfirmed speculation. But in March of 2020, Materazzi shared these details in an interview with Spanish news outlet AS.
The words prompted an immediate reaction from Zidane, who turned and firmly headbutted Materazzi on the chest. The action was a straightforward red card decision for referee Horacio Elizondo. Zidane left the pitch in disgrace in the 110th minute of the match, his final professional appearance as a player. His side managed to keep the score at 1-1 through the end of extra time but lost the following penalty shootout 3-5.
The final shirt of Zidane’s career is symbolic of an infamous moment, but this moment would not be so infamous were it not for the context of his unforgettable career that preceded it. While Zizou suffered several defeats in cup finals at the club and national levels, each of these shirts remain a testament to an all-time great, widely considered the best midfielder in football history. For all his achievements and all his flaws, we love Zizou!