When we think of Zidane, we think of roulette, tonsure, red card, turtleneck, Volvic, first star, Arc de Triomphe … but also, of course, “Zimdine Zimdane”. Interview with the father of this pseudonym and great admirer of Zizou: Jamel Debbouze.
It’s a little confusing, because it happened in the neighborhood of so many different places. Almost suddenly. There was a Kabyle in Cannes doing crazy things. And the first time I saw him play was in Bordeaux. I was there, I forced the invitation. I wanted to see this miracle.
“We must have had to face the same difficulties, we have overcome them without being frontal, without ever holding a grudge towards anyone, we have never taken revenge. We have this common love for France. ”
And the first meeting? I read it was in Clairefontaine. You said: “When we looked at each other, something very strong happened. ” What ?
We met in 1997, something like that. I was up H., I was playing my show at the same time. It happened that I fell in love with the number 10 of the French team. That a boy of my generation, who comes more or less from the same place as me, grew up in a neighborhood, La Castellane, our parents had the same origins, who wears the shirt of France with the emblem on his chest, and who is strong like Maradona and Pele … Well yes, that does something. There are so many things in common … We must have had to deal with the same difficulties, we have overcome them without being frontal, without ever holding a grudge towards anyone, we have never been vindictive. We have this common love for France.
Which of the two was more intimidated?
Myself. (Silence.) He. (Silence.) No, but me. Frankly, he too. We brag, but when we get hit, we don’t bring it back. I was very impressed, he has such charisma.
Were you able to tell each other things?
I told him : ” How are you ? ” He answered me: “Very good. And you?” I replied: “It’s going well, yes.” He told me : “Pleased to meet you. ”
He told you he had your two DVDs …
Oh yes. But that was after. When I went to see him at Real. One day, I saw a DVD of my show and one of the best in the trunk of his car. He really moved me. (Laughs.) He was a fan and it was creepy when a legend likes your job. I was lucky enough to be in his hotel room, in the green with the Galactics. In the hallway there were Roberto Carlos and Figo playing with a tennis ball in their underwear … It will mark me for life, because I felt like I was with the guys from my neighborhood.
Her father Smaïl says in his autobiography that Zidane in private is really different from the public figure. How different is it?
When he’s with his friends, when he doesn’t feel judged, he obviously lets himself go. He is one of the funniest and most lively guys I know. It is also a little bit. He is joking. He is the clown of his family, always in a good mood. But I don’t get the impression that Zidane is perceived as someone who isn’t a good person. With France in 1998 he has relaunched I will Survive. It’s nothing though … (Laughs.) We met with laughter, we started joking and we didn’t stop, like in the neighborhoods, where we spend our time playing down, laughing at everything.
“He’s one of the funniest and liveliest guys I know. It is also a little bit. He is joking. He is his family clown, always in a good mood. ”
Yet another quote. You once said: “Everyone would dream of being Zinedine Zidane. ” Isn’t it hard to be a living legend?
Everyone would dream of being Zidane when he is in the penalty area. Or when he dances like the Bolshoi. It’s like this fantasy of being king. We are not talking about a president, elected for a few months or years. Zidane is like a king forced to wear this crown for life. These people are imprisoned in their legend. The boy is a legend in his life, damn! This whim of Materazzi shook the whole Earth, but it brought some things back to normal. Already for him. We all put it too high. For a human being, he can be heavy to bear. Although he frankly wears it very well. Look what he did next … Three Champions League, it’s incredible. And this family … It has solid foundations and great values.
Do you understand the criticisms of personalities like Rachid Taha or JoeyStarr who complain about his apolitical side and the lukewarm water tap?
He is right to have the position he holds. He doesn’t need to represent. To give an opinion is to divide. He is the captain of France, he is number 10, he wears the armband, so he is obliged to federate and join. Who is not happy, eat cheese. (Laughs.) I want to answer him: “You already do a quarter of what he did. ” If only playing as he played, he reaped. In a crazy way. He helped us win the World Cup. However, he had a bad start.
“He abolished racism for 48 hours. ” It is one of the sentences from your speech at the UNFP ceremony for the delivery of his trophy of honor in 2007. Behind the joke, how much do you believe in saying that?
I believe it when I say it. It was the Jospin-Chirac era. There was coexistence. The National Front was at a minimum. Even economically, the coffers of France were full. And those two goals made it happen. It didn’t last long, but we got to taste it. Especially me. I remember a cover of Teleramathe title : “Beur is beautiful. ” (Laughs.) I don’t think they’ll be titling it today. This sentence at the UNFP ceremony was thought out, lived and felt. I was so proud I told him. I wrote it with Jean-Pierre Bacri, if you want to know everything. You have to give credit where the credit is due to Bacri. They are hours of conversation about Zidane, the team from France, France, the good weather we tasted. Well then, there was 11 September … (Laughs.) There we had to reorganize.
How did you get him to play Asterix at the Olympic Games?
There were two things. First, I found a great blase: Numberdix. For this valve alone, he laughed for half an hour. Besides, being in Asterix is still great, a new experience for him. It is a magnificent postcard of my life, this sequence, I see it every now and then. It’s stupid we didn’t film rehearsals in his dressing room. There was Véronique, we really worked. His answer “Fuck, my thing is rotten” he rocked him straight, as if we were going to a party and I was dressed better than him.
Did you feel stressed out? Did you do a lot of filming?
But not at all. We weren’t working, we were having fun with friends. Really. I have it with the professionals, with Gad … It was one of the best moments of my life. One, I make a scene with Zinédine Zidane. But what is the jackpot? It’s just that I meet the woman of my life on set. (Mélissa Theuriau, who has come to write a subject for Reserved areaed) This shot is very close to my heart, it is full of many things. I was so happy, relaxed. Even him. It was a recreation.
Were you at ease even on the day of the match against poverty between Zidane’s and Ronaldo’s friends, when you received a pass from Zizou and found yourself face to face with the goalkeeper in front of the entire audience at the Vélodrome?
The parallel is crazy, because that’s exactly what I was going to tell you. He made me so comfortable that I was completely depressed. Little cross of legs the air of nowhere. On a Deep Step by Zinedine Zidane. Small network, cousin. Unstoppable. (Laughs.) It has this power to put people in the best mood. And I took the example of guys like him when I had to do Le Marrakech du rire or the Jamel Comedy Club. When you have a team and you have to bring people, you have to be really relaxed.
With him it’s natural, would you say?
Yes. You have seen how he leads his teams on the field or on the bench. It is intrinsic, almost animalistic. It has a ninth sense. A spatial intelligence different from ours. He doesn’t see a square like you. He doesn’t know he’s a mathematician. He thinks he is a footballer.
“It has a ninth sense. A spatial intelligence different from ours. He doesn’t see a square like you. He doesn’t know he’s a mathematician. He thinks he is a footballer. ”
Crazy fact: He thinks you were in his room before the 2006 final.
Before the game? No, this is wrong. But I was there in 1998, the evening after the final, in Clairefontaine. I took a ride like that, secretly. He was more serious than everyone else. In 2006, however, I was at the stadium.
How did you experience it?
I arrived late. Fortunately, the boy had a television in his cab. It was sizzling, but I saw the panenka. I arrived at the stadium and later, brother, I didn’t understand anything. Because we couldn’t see well. There was such a blur … When we finally got it, it was a cataclysm. You don’t know how to live it. I cried. And I went home.
Did you really call your daughter Zizou?
(Calls his daughter Lila.) Zizou, come and see. To say ” Good morning ” . (She says “hi”.) It had such an effect on us. We have been carried by him and by this whole generation. Well yes, of course I almost called my daughter Zizou until my wife intervened. He is a man who has been very important in my life. He was driving, deeply. It is thanks to him, unconsciously, that I have done so many things. I swear. The first Marrakech du rire, I give you a scoop, was destined to die in the bud. A week earlier there is the Argana attack (name of the café on the Jemaa el-Fna square where a bomb exploded, operated remotely, on April 28, 2011, ed.), people were afraid to come. He was the first to say yes and everyone landed. Behind, me and Omar Sy, we do a sketch where we say that we cut our legs and that we go to sell them in Jemaa el-Fna square … (Laughs.) His mother didn’t like it and I apologize a thousand times if it moved her. My mother would have reacted the same way, except that she would try to find me.
It had to end with a quote. You said it jokingly. How much “he’s the man of your life” ?
Are you stupid or what? Do you want me to go out? (Laughs.)
Interview from our book dedicated to Zinedine Zidane, available here.
Interview by Maxime Marchon