Zidane was like a leader of an orchestra: Desailly

Zidane was like a leader of an orchestra: Desailly

Former French star kicks off UEFA CL Experience in Abu Dhabi

By James Jose (senior Reporter)

Published: Sat 13 Jun 2015, 10:12 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:13 PM

Abu Dhabi — As Marcel Desailly kicked-off the UEFA Champions League Experience at Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi on Friday, the first ever in the world, it was an experience in itself listening to one of the greatest footballers of all time.

The former French international, who plied his trade with Marseille, AC Milan and Chelsea, had the audience rapt in attention. And the defender, who was the first player to win the Champions League with two different clubs in consecutive seasons, reckoned his compatriot Zinedine Zidane was the best he played with.

“Zinedine Zidane,” Desailly promptly replied when asked who the favourite he played with.

“His skills, he was like a magician. He was like the leader of an orchestra. He can control the ball, he can see people coming. I think he could see people coming in slow motion. I was strong and during training, I would try to go quickly on him. You would think that you are fast but he could see you come in slow motion and he could really turn and do a different moment. He was a real pure talent,” added Desailly.

And Desailly felt Brazil’s Ronaldo was the best he had played against. “Ronaldo was the best I played against. Probably, he could have been at the same level as Lionel Messi if he hadn’t got injuries. Ronaldo was an amazing player.

The Ghana-born Frenchman said it was tough to pick his greatest Champions League and compared it to choosing between his children. Desailly had won his first Champions League with Marseille where they had defeated AC Milan in the 1993 final. Then, a year later, he won his second with AC Milan as the Italian side blanked FC Barcelona 4-0.

“It is a difficult question. With Marseille was the first one. You always remember the first one as I was very young and the quality of commitment was not expected as well. It was against a big team like AC Milan at that time and we were a young team. With AC Milan it was different.

It pushed me to a different level and (Pep) Guardiola was playing with FC Barcelona at that time. But it was a great experience, lifting the trophy. It is a real emotional moment, something very special. But I think, the question is like asking to choose between one of my children. It is impossible to tell,” he felt. As a defender, the 46-year-old it would have still been tough to counter a player like Lionel Messi had the Argentine played in his era.

“When I was in Italy and at that time, we used to rely on videos. But he (Messi) is so skilful, he can pass you on the right, he can pass you on the left, he can get the ball through your legs. He can play one-twos. It is very difficult because he is an amazing talent.

Don’t ask me if he is better than Diego Armando Maradona or Pele. Collectively, you really have to double up, how to mark him is the only way. It is a real collective challenge when you play against FC Barcelona. A real challenge when you play against Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo or (Alvaro) Morata,” said Desailly.


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