Zidane avoids retirement talk at charity event

February 24, 2007

CHIANG MAI, Thailand -- Zinedine Zidane played soccer at a charity event Saturday in his first game since the 2006 World Cup, brushing off questions about coming out of retirement.

There was speculation the three-time FIFA World Player of the Year might follow former Real Madrid teammate David Beckham and play in the United States.

Zidane refused to take questions about his future plans.

"I've found a new world after retirement," Zidane said at a news conference. "I'm very excited to experience new things such as playing in this match."

The charity match was held in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai, where Zidane joined players from Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia and several Thai celebrities.

More than 20,000 fans packed the Chiang Mai Municipal Stadium, cheering on "Zizou," as Zidane is popularly known.

Under a scorching sun, Zidane showed off a few of his old touches, chipping the ball over a Thai goalkeeper's head and drawing a roar from the crowd.

Zidane headbutted an opponent during the World Cup final with Italy and ended his career with a red card. France lost to Italy on penalty kicks.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press