Monday, February 24, 2014

A new Zizou for Les Bleus

Interesting news coming out of Clairefontaine - Enzo Fernandez (Zidane) - has been called up and will be going to a FFF U19 camp. This might not sound like big news - was there ever really any question that the son of one of the greatest French players not play for his native land??? Reality is there was, and continues to be questions as to whether Enzo doesn't allow himself to be courted by the Spanish national team.

Enzo was born in France, but has spent a considerable amount of time in Spain since his legendary father played for Los Blancos. The young Zizou as been on the Real Madrid youth set up since 2004. There was a lot of debate as to where Enzo would end up. He has chosen playing for Les Bleus...for now. But before we go too crazy, let us pump the breaks
At least we know he has his father's temper
  on this.

There is little argument that Zidane is considered one of the greatest, maybe the greatest player for France (I actually would slot him second behind Platini and in front of Kopa). And one of the greatest players of all time (off the top of my head the top 5 all time players - Pele, Maradonna, Cruyff, Beckenbauer, Puskas....throw in Yashin, have to pick a GK!) I cannot imagine the pressure that the young Enzo faces - probably why he goes by Enzo Fernandez (mother's maiden name) rather than Zidane. The fact he is playing for the youth set up for Real Madrid is already a major achievement, the fact he has been called up for the Spanish U15 and now the France U19 is another amazing achievement...but that is a far far far cry from achieving the heights his father reached.

Youth set ups and international teams churn through young talent on a regular basis, you might argue it is a bit of a meat grinder - actually a real meat grinder. The percentage of those players that a)are able to play football professionally to put food on the table is very small b)the honor of being able to play for your nation's A side is even smaller. I remember watching a show about the Nantes youth set up, they interviewed Zidane for some segments where he said, and I paraphrase: "Of all the players at the Cannes youth academy that started with me, I was the only one to go on to play professionally." Don't forget that the Cannes youth set up is one of the best in France - so already pulling in the cream of the crop into the set up. Bottom line, Enzo has all the genes and pedigree to succeed. He is already on a path that sets him up to succeed. But that is not any stretch of the imagination. It is a nice news story.

But let's not get overly excited, let's not start calling for him to be called up for the Brazil World Cup and let's not expect that he will achieve what his father did. He needs to be allowed to be his player, develop to the level he can achieve. Of course that is easier said than done. Over-hyped youth players come and go - remember a certain Freddy Adu? Let us pump the brakes on Enzo. Wish him the best, and let him achieve what he can, he has enough pressure having the Zidane name...

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