Zinedine Zidane is quite a busy man, what with his job as director of football for Real Madrid, the part-time pursuit of getting his coaching badges and the ethereal nature of being Zinedine Zidane. Yet a bold approach from the French fourth division club in his wife's hometown has convinced him to invest in the financially strapped team.
A shrinking local economy in Rodez, France and resulting budget cuts caused Rodez Aveyron Football to drop from the third division to the fourth. The club that played in Ligue 2 from 1988 to 1993 ended up going into debt and with their backs against the wall, turned to Zidane when he happened to be in town.
From the BBC:
When the club's owners realised Zidane was spending time in the area at his in-laws, they plucked up the courage to see the star and ask him to help their financially troubled club.
And, as Zidane told the BBC's World Football programme, he was more than happy to come on board as an investor.
"Some people came to see me about their ambitions for Rodez football club and it seemed interesting. Things needed to be done and I wanted to help out," said Zidane.
"I come from the streets, a difficult neighbourhood. I have never forgotten my roots. It's not because you work for the biggest club in the world that you forget everything beforehand. It's thanks to my in-laws that I have discovered this club and family. I love this region and spending time here and I feel at home".
Zidane didn't just hand over his money out of the kindness of his heart, though. He's looking for a return on his investment and has set a climb back to the second division as the ultimate goal.
The 1998 Ballon d'Or and World Cup winner has already sparked excitement in the club by visiting the 5,955-seat Stade Paul Lignon and the back of his head has been given a prominent place on the club's official website. But since he can't be a regular fixture at the ground, he says he will rely on his father-in-law to update him on Rodez's fortunes. Because Zinedine Zidane, surely, does not use the Internet. Instead, he has a cloak and dagger network of trusted allies who pass him information through hushed tones and scraps of paper as he stalks the night. Ever vigilant.
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