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Celebrity of the Moment: Zidane

July 15, 1998

After his second goal, his teammates surrounded him to celebrate.

Zinedine Zidane, the son of Algerian immigrants in Marseille, had set France on the road to its first World Cup soccer championship. For the icing on the cake, Emmanuel Petit scored a third with less than a minute to go, giving France a 3-0 victory over Brazil, the team that was favored to win.

``It was the first time France is world champion,″ said Zidane, ``so it has to be extraordinary.″ It was also the first time a host team had won the World Cup since Argentina’s victory in 1978. Brazil won the trophy in 1994, its fourth time. ``It’s extraordinary, it’s fabulous,″ Zidane said, ``and words fail to describe our joy.″

An estimated 600,000 flag-waving, screaming fans lined the Champs-Elysees in Paris to greet the triumphant French soccer team. Using Zidane’s nickname, they shouted ``Zizou for president! Zizou for president!″

The players inched along the grand avenue in an open-topped bus, dressed in their World Cup jerseys and displaying the coveted golden trophy. They kissed and hugged each other, waving to the crowd. Coach Aime Jacquet grinned and raised his arms in triumph. A crush of adoring fans engulfed the bus, their arms outstretched.

Fans waving French flags, their cheeks painted red, white and blue, were joined by those raising the Algerian national colors _ white, green and red _ in honor of Zidane. French television provided live coverage of the parade, which along with the post-victory party on the Champs-Elysees, represents the biggest celebration in Paris since the Liberation in 1944.

Zidane has been singled out not only for his stellar play but also as a sort of poster child for the multicultural team. French President Jacques Chirac saluted the ``tricolored (red, white and blue) but also multicolored″ team that has ``given France a beautiful image.″

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