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15 GIFs That Sum Up Zinedine Zidane’s Flawless 2006 World Cup Performance

Without reviewing the entire 2006 World Cup — or at least just France’s quarterfinal victory over Brazil — it’s difficult to get a sense of just how deserved a Golden Ball winner Zinedine Zidane was. 

Having announced his retirement from Real Madrid at the end of the 2005-06 season, the summer’s World Cup served as Zidane’s swan song on the pitch. He turned it into his personal testimonial, particularly when the knockout stages began. 

With Claude Makelele and Patrick Vieira forming the engine room of France’s squad, Zidane took up an auxiliary role behind the front three of Florent Malouda, Thierry Henry and Franck Ribery. 

While a goal against Spain in the Round of 16, an assist for Henry in the quarters and subsequent penalties in the semifinals and final (that one being an audacious Panenka over Gianluigi Buffon) constitute highlight reel material, so much more of his work in Germany was brilliantly subtle.

Zinedine Zidane 2006 World Cup performance

Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka and Zidane say hello. Photo: @UltraTribun | Twitter

The 34-year-old’s touch was magnetic throughout the competition; his ability to retain and recycle possession, shift the points of attack and continuously spot the correct pass while applying the perfect weight made Zidane the heartbeat of the team.

What’s more, Zidane was beating markers with ease (AGE 34), frequently reaching into his bag of step overs, roulette turns, roll overs and flicks. If you haven’t seen a touch-by-touch montage of Zidane’s performance against Brazil, just know he reinvented the midfield as we know it during that game. Ask Kaka, Juninho, Gilberto Silva or Ze Roberto — they’ll back me up here.

And so here are 15 brilliant moments from Zidane’s 2006 World Cup performance, in short and snappy gif form.

#1. Zidane with a couple step overs, twists and turns and a delicate scoop pass vs. Switzerland.

Zinedine Zidane vs Switzerland 2006   HD 1

#2. Zidane keeping possession while three South Koreans grow frustrated.

Zidane ★ All in the touch - Korea 06

#3. Zidane scores France's third in the Round of 16 to bury Spain.

Zidane vs Spain 2006

#4. Zidane tears through the heart of Brazil's midfield with some step overs.

Zidane Brazil 2006

#5. Zidane instantly kills the ball with his control.

Zidane Control

#6. Zidane again bursts through Brazil's midfield while hurdling challenges.

Zidane Control

#7. With Kaka lurking, Zidane juggles the ball and retains possession.

Zidane ★ All in the touch - Brazil (2006)

#8. Zidane pick out Henry at the far post with a killer set piece.

Zidane ★ All in the touch - Brazil (2006)

#9. Zidane wins the ball back against Portugal and turns defense into attack.

Zidane ★ All in the touch - Portugal

#10. A 34-year-old just sizing up defenders.

Zidane ★ All in the touch - Portugal

#11. Zidane's Panenka over Gigi Buffon.

Zinedine Zidane's Last Match


#12. Zidane beats his Italian marker with a step over. 

Zinedine Zidane's Last Match

#13. Zidane leaves the Italian defenders chasing shadows.

Zinedine Zidane's Last Match

#14. Zidane holds up play, turns and finds the best option.

Zinedine Zidane's Last Match

#15. What would've been a fine alternate ending for Zidane's career, if not for Buffon.

Zinedine Zidane's Last Match

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