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On this day in 2004 – Zinedine Zidane retires from international football

(Image credit: ADAM BUTLER)

Zinedine Zidane retired from international football on this day in 2004 – only to change his mind a year later.

The midfielder, affectionately known as Zizou, made his initial announcement 16 years ago on his personal website with the minimum fuss, stressing that it was far from a spur-of-the-moment decision.

“I did not decide to retire on impulse,” said Zidane, who was 32 at the time. “It had been running through my head for a while.

“I was thinking about it before Euro 2004 and, whatever the result, I had planned to stop playing for France afterwards anyway.”

Zidane made a U-turn a year later, however, claiming a “mysterious voice” persuaded him to come out of international retirement and join up with the France team for the remainder of their World Cup qualifying campaign.

Les Bleus went on to reach the World Cup final in 2006, with Zidane’s final act being a headbutt on Italy defender Marco Materazzi which earned the Frenchman a red card as the Azzurri lifted the trophy.

It was the last of Zidane’s 108 caps for his country which had seen him win the World Cup on home soil in 1998, scoring twice in the final against holders Brazil, and the 2000 European Championship.