October 29th, 2010
Galactico: Enzo Zidane (right), son of Zinedine, is hotly tipped to succeed in the same way as his father
Few can claim to have sparked off a battle between two countries when still in their early teens. But then Real Madrid youngster Enzo Zidane is no ordinary teenager.
He was born 15 years ago to a mother of Spanish origin and a father of Algerian descent who became the hero of France as the finest football player of his generation. And already Les Bleus and La Roja are frantically fighting to secure his services.
French TV threw their weight behind the FFF’s pursuit with a special broadcast earlier this year, and they hold the trump card of being the country of his birth.
Spain retorted. ‘We’re going to call him up for Spain. We intend to speak with his father and call him up in October,’ said Gines Melendez, the coach of Spain’s Under-17 squad.
However after eight years in Spain, and with Zidane Snr still heavily involved in Real – he is expected to sit alongside Jose Mourinho in the dugout over the coming weeks – Enzo’s heart is with the world champions.
Unstoppable: Zinedine Zidane was the finest player of his generation
The clamour appears justified. Expectation was stratospheric and so far he seems to matching the hype.
Enzo operates in a similar role to his father. As Zizou would glide effortlessly across the turf, orchestrating proceedings from behind the forward line, the eldest of his four children does the same.
He is reported to have enjoyed several training sessions with Mourinho’s senior squad and feedback has been positive.
Earlier this season, the club’s sporting director Jorge Valdano commented: ‘He is really his father printed on the pitch.’
History, though, tells us that children often struggle to emerge from the shadow of their parents. Zidane’s is arguably the most considerable shadow of them all.
Kasper Schmeichel, son of Manchester United legend Peter, was last season keeping goal for League Two Notts County despite several of his teenage years spent at Manchester City. Time, though, like it is for Steve Bruce’s son Alex, is on his side.
Elsewhere in history Johan Cryuff’s son Jordi failed to excite at both Barcelona and United and, after knocking around La Liga’s lesser lights, wound up at Maltese side Valletta.
There are of course those who have matched, and in some cases exceeded, expectation. Paolo Maldini is the most notable example, while closer to home Chelsea’s Frank Lampard has usurped his father as the family’s finest.
It remains to be seen which camp Enzo falls into. Early signs suggest it will be the latter. Here’s hoping.
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