Three-times World Player of the Year
Zinedine Zidane has decided to play for France again, the midfielder
announced on Wednesday.
The Real Madrid player had announced his retirement from international
football after Euro 2004 a year ago.
"(France coach) Raymond Domenech came to see me two or three times in
Madrid and he told me what he expected from me," Zidane said on his
The 33-year-old said fellow midfielder Claude Makelele had also decided
to play for France again.
Makelele had announced his international retirement in September last
year, saying he wanted to concentrate on his club career with Chelsea.
Zidane's decision came as a surprise after he had said several times
over the past few months that he would not change his mind.
Pressure on the inspirational midfielder to return had increased with
France facing a struggle to qualify for the 2006 World Cup finals in
Germany and badly missing his unique skills.
Zidane will play for France in their next match, a friendly against
Ivory Coast on August 17 in Montpellier. Makelele will also be a
candidate for a place in the starting line-up.
Regarded by many as the world's finest player, Zidane has won 93 caps,
scoring 26 goals for France. He helped his country win the World Cup in
1998 and the European championship in 2000.
Domenech, preparing his team for World Cup qualifiers next month,
welcomed the decision of Zidane and Makelele to return.
"I am very satisfied that France can again rely on Zinedine Zidane and
Claude Makelele, two hugely talented players who play at the highest
level with their clubs," Domenech said in a statement.