Zinédine Zidane

Zidane in Mali
Zidane visits anti-poverty projects in Mali, October 2011. Photo: N. Meulders/UNDP

French soccer star Zinédine Zidane, born in 1972, earned his reputation as one of the world's best players with his incomparable, often impossible-looking displays of technique and control — but there are things that he would not "give up for any amount of fame or success."

One of these is his commitment, since being appointed a UNDP Goodwill Ambassador in March 2001, to help countries reduce poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

"I've known hard times, too," he says. "I know what poverty is. I, too, lived in difficult places, where we didn't have everything. And today I want to help. There are things in this world that are more important than football." He describes his anti-poverty efforts as "the kind of thing my family, my upbringing and people I love have always encouraged. It's something that is part of you or isn't — but it's not something you embark upon or give up for any amount of fame or success."

Zidane's first collaboration with UNDP goes back to the year 2000, when he and another soccer superstar, Ronaldo, launched the UNDP mobilization campaign "Teams to End Poverty," inviting people, businesses and institutions to get involved in anti-poverty actions locally or internationally. The campaign, created by the advertising agency Leagas Delaney, revolves around the concept of "Teaming Up Against Poverty" to achieve the MDGs. It features celebrities from the worlds of sports, arts, fashion or business.

Zidane and Ronaldo also team up every year with their friends in the Match Against Poverty to raise awareness of the MDGs and to raise funds for poverty-fighting initiatives on behalf of UNDP.

During the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, a multi-lingual public service announcement featuring Zidane and Didier Drogba called on citizens of the world to join the team that would beat poverty. Zidane has also visited anti-poverty projects in Niger and Mali and funded five multifunctional platforms.

At the club level, Zidane won La Liga and the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid, two Serie A league championships with Juventus and an Intercontinental Cup and a UEFA Super Cup each with both aforementioned teams. On the international stage, Zidane won the 1998 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2000 with France.

Zidane has won the FIFA World Player of the Year three times and the Ballon D'Or once.

Zidane was named best European footballer of the past 50 years by UEFA and has been described as one of the greatest players in the history of the game. Zidane retired from professional football after the 2006 World Cup and he is assistant coach and sporting director at Real Madrid.  

Video

Football superstar and UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Zinédine Zidane ended a visit to Mali, where he witnessed new anti-poverty initiatives put into action across the West African nation.