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The retired French maestro has confessed that he was on the verge of tears during his farewell game for Los Blancos.

Zinedine Zidane may have had a World Cup final to forget with France in Germany 2006 but just a few months prior, he had one of his more emotional evenings when he bade farewell to club football with Real Madrid.

The playmaker extraordinaire featured in his very last competitive game in the famous white shirt on May 7, 2006 against Villarreal at the Santiago Bernabeu. He was given a touching reception before, during and after the game and the 36-year-old has now admitted that he had to fight as hard as he normally does on the pitch to hold back tears.

“It was a very emotional moment for me. Many people who know me will tell you that I’m not really good at showing emotions, but that game was different,” he said in an interview with FIFA.com.

“When I looked at the stands, I saw my friends and family there. They were there to support me and that made the match even more special for me. I remember that I battled to hold back tears.

“The thing is, deep down, you know that this is your last game of your club career and throughout my life, I have always loved playing football,” he added.

The conversation invariably turned to the now-infamous incident in the World Cup final against Italy and when ‘Zizou’ was asked if he would do any anything differently in that game, he replied with a smile, “I don’t really want to talk about that.

“So much has been said and written about things that happened during that game, but to me, it’s history now.

“It was a great game and we wanted to win it. Obviously, I would have loved to see France on the winning side, but it didn’t happen.”

Finally, Zidane, who was in Sun City, South Africa to participate in a five-a-side tournament, had a message for the host nation of the 2010 World Cup.

“This is a very beautiful country. I have to say I’m impressed and so far, I’m enjoying myself here. I’m sure that people are going to love being here,” he enthused.

“Not many people [from other continents] have been to Africa and for many, it will be a new and completely different experience.

“Hosting the World Cup is a special moment for any country and I’m sure South African will embrace the tournament. The World Cup brings happiness to the supporters and I would urge South Africans to enjoy it… enjoy every moment because it’s something they might not experience again in their lives.

“It’s an exciting period and an opportunity for Africa to show the rest of the world what it is capable of.”  

KS Leong, Goal.com

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