How Zinedine Zidane nearly joined Blackburn Rovers 1 year ago

How Zinedine Zidane nearly joined Blackburn Rovers

It's all Tim Sherwood's fault

In the summer of 1995, Blackburn Rovers were riding the crest of a wave. Despite their defeat at Anfield on a nerve-shredding final day of the 1994/95 season, they had done enough to be crowned champions of England - and already had an eye on what was to come.

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Kenny Dalglish stepped down as manager to become the club's director of football but, having missed out on Roy Keane a couple of years before, was keen the club signed a talented young midfielder from Bordeaux to help bolster the squad ahead of the new campaign. His name: Zinedine Zidane. He turned out to be quite good.

Dalglish went as far as expressing his wish to sign Zidane to the club's owner, Jack Walker. His response is the stuff of legend. "Why do you want to sign Zidane when we have Tim Sherwood?"

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Zidane 'visited Blackburn training ground'

Precisely how close Zidane came to arriving at Ewood Park is unclear, though Sherwood himself claimed in an interview given to The Independent in 2014 that Zidane - along with Christophe Dugarry - visited the club's training facilities. Presumably because of Walker's faith in Sherwood, the move failed to materialise.

Zidane had already earned his first cap for France prior to Blackburn's interest and Eric Cantona's year-long suspension for assaulting a fan saw him moved into a more creative role for his national side. Over the course of the 1995/96 season, a series of standout performances for club and country saw him turn heads at some of the biggest clubs on the continent.

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Zidane forced to settle for Juventus move

After Euro 96, he joined Juventus, who had just won the Champions League. His impact there was instant - helping them to the Serie A title in his debut season and winning the Intercontinental Cup with victory over River Plate in Tokyo.

Zidane would go on to score twice in the 1998 World Cup final to see France overcome favourites Brazil in Paris. In 2001, he became the most expensive player in the world when Real Madrid agreed a world record fee to bring him to the Spanish capital from Turin. He repaid some of the fee by scoring a memorable volley in a Champions League final victory against Bayer Leverkusen at the end of his first season.

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Blackburn's decline

For Blackburn, meanwhile, things have never been quite as good as they were in 1995. Under Dalglish's replacement, Ray Harford, they finished seventh the next season, also finishing bottom of their group in the Champions League.

At the end of that season, they reluctantly agreed to sell Alan Shearer to Newcastle for £15m. Three years later, they were relegated.

And to make matters worse, Sherwood also left the club for Tottenham earlier that same year.

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