France football legend Zinedine Zidane on Friday said the present national team will give ‘good’ competition to other top teams competing in the Euro championship this year.
“This team is very good. I am expecting them to give good competition to the others. I hope they win the cup but even if they don’t they have to give a good fight,” Zidane said at an event here.
Twenty-four European nations are contesting in the quadrennial event which will end on July 10. Defending champions Spain and 2014 World Cup winner Germany are hot favourites to lift the trophy this time around.
Zidane, who was instrumental in France’s World Cup triumph in 1998 still looks fit and fab at the age of 43. Asked about his fitness regime, the Real Madrid coach said, ”You have to keep your mind and body focussed as to what you have to do as a football player. It’s very important to keep my body fit. Even if I don’t play, I follow the same rules. It’s very easy to take part as a trainer and relax but I don’t do that.”
The talismanic Frenchman also expressed his regret over headbutting Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final which had earned him a red-card.
“I am not at all proud of what happened in 2006. I am not advising anyone to behave in the same manner,” Zidane said.
France lost the game 3-5 on penalties after which Zidane quit international football.
He also urged the present players to control their anger if they happen to be in a similar situation in future.
“I tell them you have to control yourself as there will be always provocation. It’s part of life to make mistakes, but you have to learn from them,” said Zidane, who guided Real Madrid to their 11th Champions League crown this year.
Zidane, considered by many as the one of the greatest to have ever played the game said winning the coveted Champions League trophy gave him huge satisfaction while as a player it was a “wonderful” feeling for him in 2002.
“Training all the team (players) is amazing,” he said when asked to compare the two achievements.
When asked about the recent terror attacks in France, Zidane said,” Euro is a great competition. It’s a moment of unity (for the continent).”
He, however, preferred not to dwell anything on the FIFA corruption scandal saying, ”I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to be disturbed by what we hear every day.”
Racism has also been a major problem in international football over the years and though Zidane said he has never felt it personally he believes it still exists.
“It exists, but I have not faced it anywhere. But I cannot imagine life without a mix of origins (in and out of football),” said the footballer who was born to Algerian parents.
He also backed out from diving into the controversy over racism surrounding the French team picked for Euro 2016 that kick-starts in his country from Friday.
“I respect the selection of the team. France team may be young, but the players in it are experienced playing in different leagues. They have the capacity to win the tournament.
“I don’t think they will be under any additional pressure playing at home,” he said.
Zidane also refrained from picking a winner for the Euro and said,”Belgium is one of the excellent teams.”