REAL MADRID

Barthez defends his friend Zidane from the critics

In an interview with Fifa.com, the former goalkeeper and ex-teammate of Zinedine Zidane with France compared him to Cruyff, Maradona and Pele. Juventus-Real Madrid live

Fabien Barthez y Zinedine Zidane se abrazan en una imagen de archivo de un partido de ambos con la Selección francesa.

Former French goalkeeper, Fabien Barthez, claims that his former team mate and now coach of Real Madrid, Zinedine Zidane "knows football, has always known how to make a difference in the biggest games and was a leader who always carried the load."

"Everyone just talks about success, but I do not see it that way. It's not as if success in the sense that it has fallen from the sky and into his lap. You must look for the opportunities, and when they appear you have to know how to take advantage of them, like Cruyff, Maradona, Pele ... Zidane has always been able to make differences in the biggest games," Barthez told FIFA.com.

Barthez defends his friend Zidane from the critics

Anecdote about their time with France

The former shot-stopper recalls one friendly against the Czech Republic in August of 1994, zidane came off the bench and turned the whole game upside down. "It was his first appearance," recalls Barthez, reliving Zidane's international debut. "He came on and immediately took control. He took responsibility for our play."

Barthez, who retired in 2006 along with Zidane, says his compatriot "has the qualities of a high-level sportsperson in knowing when to listen and observe", he says, "and he applies the notion of fun along with play" in order to work and get the most from his side. 

"He never went around claiming he was going to coach Real Madrid. That's not his style. The fact that Didier Deschamps became a coach was even more predictable, given his nature as a leader of men who likes to speak up. Zidane was a leader on the pitch above all else. He said a few words from time to time, but it was when he had the ball at his feet that he took most responsibility for the team, although he did express himself more as time went on and he became a senior player."

Barthez thinks Fernando Santos will beat out Zidane as the coach of the year as the premium European international tournament is more difficult to win than the club's counterpart. The former Manchester United goalkeepers says Zidane is respected because, "he is a great footballer, but above everything, he is a good person, healthy and sincere. He always speaks the truth, even when it hurts and that is important to keep the confidence of his players. I don't say this because he is my friend, but objectively speaking, he knows how to unite and deliver, and that has always been his success. To play with fun is the way to victory," Barthez  says.