Zinedine Zidane

it’s deep into the second half of World Cup Final and with Zidane and Henry pulling the strings for France it appears as if Zidane’s farewell will be glorious and positive; little were we to be aware of the vivid drama that was about to unfold. It was the psychology of sport at it’s best.

Now we have to try to understand that at the very end, the moment where triumph reached out to grab his hand to take him to the pinnacle again, Zidane’s fingers slipped from the grasp of victory and he slid down the cliff of failure to a somewhat tainted retirement.

Enough Is Enough

It has been mooted that the Italian defender Matterazzi provoked Zidane into a response by some racist or other objectionable remarks, and this if, true, would suggest that the Frenchman, who would surely have been used to such provocations during his illustrious career, had decided that enough is enough, it was a blow for all the insults he had suffered throughout his life.

He was acting against bigotry and was raising a flag of defiance. It would be only in the bleary light of day that he might recognize the negative consequences; where in one fractured second the hero becomes a villain.

Zidane has struck out before in his career, but always just a little sly kick at the opponent not a full on assault. And the odd thing is he never complains about the punishment, as if he exacts revenge/justice and accepts the consequences. Perhaps he feels that in such circumstances it is ok to break the laws of the game.

The Sports Psychology Mindset

My email inbox has been overloaded with people wanting to know what happened from a sports psychology mindset? For reasons, one need to go deep into his psyche. It is possible to acquaint his behaviour in this regard to similar flawed stars Best and Maradona, although his persona is obviously different. His flare ups have occurred when his art is compromised, e.. stupid tackle on him by inferior player, but in this circumstance  his values were compromised by Materazzi, both real life and football life, and it may have seemed to Zizou that the one was the same as the other at this red mist moment.

A few minutes earlier he had nearly won the game for France, so he was still fully involved in the task of victory, but as with all of them, they were running of the last dregs of mental and physical energy, and that may have allowed some self doubt to creep in, where there had been certainties, now there were ambiguities, could he fail at the last, the very last, hurdle?

An Act Of Self Sabotage

Zidane is a very modest and self effacing man, and he has found it difficult to accept his iconic status and his role as the poster boy of multiculturalism, and this would be why an act of self sabotage would be possible, as if he was saying don’t expect so much of me.

We are aware that many people don’t know how to go out on a high note or to accept success. Federer was saying recently that he found it difficult at first to accept comparisons between him and Borg, Sampras etc but now he could understand and appreciate them.

Zidane had been credited with recreating the team spirit of ’98 and 2000, in which experience would triumph over innocence.  But he may have found it hard to accept this himself; he may have been aware of how fragile this new determination was and that, if he failed, the team failed. France failed. And this turned out to be true.

The stability which had brought to the 2006 project turned out to be flimsy. He had, some time ago, recognized that he had given all he could offer, which is was why he left International football.

The Sports Psychology Summary

So his return, while offering some sustenance to Domenech, provided little to himself. Announcing his come back Zidane said, ‘I have gone back on my decision, one year after I said it was categorical.’ He was moved by, ‘a powerful presence. it was really quite mysterious and inexplicable. I was woken at about three a.m. and began speaking with someone. It was like a revelation.’ So, said Thierry Henry, “God exists and he has just returned to international football and to the France team,” But, like all Messiahs, Zizou has proved fallible and, thus, all too human.


Posted in Football Psychology, Sports Psychology Blog.