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Football: Zidane to Retire After World Cup


French international football (soccer) star Zinedine Zidane says that he has decided to retire after the World Cup because he is no longer playing up to his own standards.

Zidane told a packed news conference in Madrid, Spain Wednesday that he wants to give Real Madrid a chance to replace him before next year's European season kicks off. The 33-year-old midfielder had one year left on his contract but said that he did not want to stay with the Spanish club, "just to be here."

The Marseille-born star, known as "Zizou," has delighted fans for 16 years with his ball handling skills. He helped lead Bordeaux to the UEFA Cup final, and transferred to the Italian club Juventus in 1996.

He moved to Madrid in 2001 for a record $63 million transfer fee and helped the Spanish club win its ninth European title. However, Madrid has not won any title in three years, its worst run since the 1950s.

A three-time FIFA player of the year, Zidane has scored 28 international goals during his career and helped lead France to the 1998 World Cup title. He retired from international football in 2004 but returned to help France qualify for this year's World Cup in Germany.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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