How fitting that Zinedine Zidane's 40th birthday should fall on a day when France meet Spain during an international tournament. Before the Spanish team shook off a long-standing flatter-to-deceive reputation, Zidane was a particular scourge. Two of his most sumptuous performances came against Spain, with knockout force.
At Euro 2000, when he played with the strut and style which made him world player of the year and earned him the European Championship medal to go with his World Cup one, he was masterful as the two teams met in the quarter-finals. Zidane scored a classic free kick, and his all-round brilliance was breathtaking. As one of the French journalists said at the time, watching Zidane in his pomp was "like falling in love".
At the 2006 World Cup, Zidane had come out of international retirement to help the cause and was again inspirational as les Bleus overcame Spain in the first knockout round. His goal, to wrap up victory in stoppage time, caused quite a stir. All in all, he rolled back the years, driving France on until it all exploded in the final.
Zidane first showed the Spanish that his was a name to remember when the teams met at Euro 96 at Elland Road. He also scored against Spain in a friendly leading up to the 1998 World Cup. His connection with Real Madrid, crowned by the winning strike in the Champions Leaguefinal against Bayer Leverkusen in 2002, continues as he currently works for the club as sporting director.
In his prime, there was nothing in Europe to rival Zizou. Joyeux anniversaire, and thanks for the memories. What price a birthday present from the French kid he watches over at Real Madrid, Karim Benzema? His last goal for France shows what he is capable of.
source, with lots more video links. i remember watching that spain-france game in 06 and just being in awe...he was head and shoulders above the opposition.