Zinedine Zidane has revealed he was injured when he delivered one of his best ever performances.
In 2006, with his career nearing a close, 'Zizou' dropped an absolute masterclass against Brazil in the World Cup quarter-final.
Brazil, the holders, had world-beaters like Ronaldinho, Ronaldo Nazario, Kaka and Ze Roberto in their ranks but Zidane absolutely ran the show at the age of 34.
The Selecao players could not get the Real Madrid legend, who turned the game into street football with his gift of a first-touch and supreme dribbling ability.
Dropping his shoulder and flicking the ball over world-class players with ease, Zidane was utterly unplayable. He assisted Thierry Henry's second half winner with a swinging free-kick to the far post.
And his display is made even more impressive by a recent admission that the Ballon d'Or winner played through the pain.
Having picked up a thigh injury in the previous round against Spain in the round of 16, Zidane was told he would not play.
“I actually hurt myself against Spain (in the round of 16," Zidane told L'Equipe in a wide-ranging interview to mark his 50th birthday.
"I hurt myself by scoring the third goal at the end of the game. I had a lump on my thigh. Almost no one knew.
“I took exams. They told me that I’m not playing against Brazil… I say: ‘What? It’s out of the question that I can’t play against Brazil!’
“The medical staff did everything for me to play because I absolutely wanted to play this game. And I played!
“Every game could be my last. I had that in my head so much that it was impossible for me not to play against Brazil. I wanted to enjoy every second.”
You genuinely would not have guessed that Zidane was not at full fitness, or even that he only had a further two games before retirement. It was one of the greatest individual performances in World Cup history.
France saw off Portugal in the semi-final courtesy of a Zidane penalty and the captain put Les Bleus 1-0 up in the final against Italy with a ridiculous Panenka penalty in off the bar.
But of course his final game ended in disgrace and disappointment when he was sent off for headbutting Marco Materazzi, who had apparently insulted Zidane's sister.
Zidane was sent off and the image of him walking past the World Cup trophy is one of the most iconic in football.
France lost on penalties and Zidane expressed regret over his rush of blood.
"I'm not at all proud of what I did, but it's part of my past," Zidane told Telefoot in a recent interview.
Featured Image Credit: Image: FIFA
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