We're sat in the stock room of the new adidas Football store in Paris. We're in town to have a chat with Zinedine Zidane, the man tasked with opening the new flagship store in the French Capital. He's kind of a big deal here, as he is anywhere in the world, and after greeting the assembled crowds outside he walks in, nods and holds out his hand.

We go to shake his hand, but he's reaching further... he's asking us to pass him the Predator Precision boots that he's spotted on our chair. That's also why he's here. We pass them, after all the man has a presence, one that is amplified when you sit down with him one-on-one. The store launch coincides with the re-release of the Predator Precision, a boot Zidane wore back in 2000/01 and that's provided our excuse to fire some questions at the Real Madrid boss.

Zinedine, (we bottled calling him Zizou) what comes to mind when you pick up a pair of adidas Predator boots? Do they have a special meaning for you?

Of course they do! They’re the boots I wore throughout my whole career as a football player so they have a special meaning for me. I've always played with Predator boots. Adidas gave us the choice to play with several models of boots but I always remained loyal to the Predators and I am proud that I did.

Is there a version of the Predator that you particularly like?

To be honest I liked all of them. They’ve all been important to me. Boots change because design changes, which is good for young players who always want the latest model, and I am like that too. I have liked all Predator models, always loved them all. Of course, each boot brings back different memories and the Precision was all about EURO 2000 for me.


When the Predator Precision was launched 17 years ago its design was very innovative, very unique…

It was indeed! And it evolved, not just the design but also the weight… it evolved in the right direction. That’s what makes these boots so unique; they have always improved from one model to the next. They have that initial impressive factor that other boots simply can't replicate.

Adidas has played a great role in your career. What is it about the brand that has kept you so close?

What I appreciate most is loyalty. Adidas has always been there for me. In good times of course, but also when things were a bit more complicated. Our story started back in 1996, adidas is still there for me today. We have a very special bond. A fantastic relationship. It’s more than just a contract between us, it’s more than that. Between adidas and me it’s a 20 year old story. That’s great.

Do you remember the first time you saw the Predator boots?

I don’t remember precisely but I liked them straight away. I first signed with adidas in 1996, that’s when I first wore the adidas Predator boots. I don’t remember what model it was but that’s not important, the most important thing is that I immediately felt conformable in the shoes and that’s the most important thing for a football player.

The new adidas Predator Precision boots are the ones you wore during the Euro 2000 Championship. Do you have found memories of that tournament?

Of course I do, we won it! I have great memories of that. The boots brought us good luck. When a football player wins a European tournament or a World Cup that’s always great because that’s what we all aim for. I remember this one particularly well because it was held in Belgium and the Netherlands, the atmosphere was great and the best part was to be there with a group of buddies and win the Championships.


You wore the Predator Precision to make your Real Madrid debut. When you joined the club, did you realise straight away what a powerful club it was?

Yes I did. I had been told. I could feel instantly I had joined the world’s greatest club. My expectations were confirmed as soon as I walked through the door. When I joined I thought “wow, I am now with the world’s greatest club, I hope it’s going to be a long, beautiful story” and the story is still going on now, I am a happy man. 

These Predator Precision boots are a re-issue of a model from the 1990s adapted to the modern game. What are the main differences between football in the 1990s and football in 2017?

Speed. The game is played much faster now. Football players are the same, their eagerness to win is always the same, they want to show their talent on the football field, but today everything goes much faster. Things change rapidly, even boot design!

How does it feel when you have a lot of success wearing a particular model of boots but then a new model is introduced?

It’s not an issue. We adapt. I always got used to the new boots. Sometimes we even collaborated with adidas to work on the design with them. There have been talks with football players, including me, regarding boots design. It’s great because at the end of the day players are the ones wearing the boots and it’s important they are comfortable. We thus get used to things changing rapidly, now even more than ever. During my time there was 1 or 2 new releases per season, maybe 3, now it’s much more often. There is much more choice, which is great!

You’re in Paris today, it’s a city you know well. There has been a lot of buzz recently around Parisian football, what do you think about it?

That’s great. Good for them.

What do you think of the city in general? Do you like to visit?

Yes I like to visit. That’s the word “visit”. Every now and then. Spending 2 or 3 days in Paris is always nice because it’s a fantastic city. Even though I am not a Parisian I have to admit it’s a beautiful city.


We can’t talk about the Predator without mentioning David Beckham. When you were playing for Real Madrid, did you two have an agreement on who would take free kicks?

There was no pre-agreement. It was decided on the pitch. My relationship with David has always been great and like me, he has always worn Predator boots. We both stayed loyal to the brand. I am happy he is still with adidas to this day, just like me. It shows adidas took the right decision at the time, our relationship with the brand is fantastic.

What was it like to play with Beckham at the Real Madrid?

It was great, it was beautiful. He was one of the best passers of the ball in the world. Every time it was perfect. I remember one time in particular: a beautiful cross-field pass like he used to do, 40 or 50 meters long, that I volleyed in. It was at the Bernabéu Stadium. I found great pleasure playing with him. His years with the Real Madrid are some of the best in his career and I was lucky enough to play with him… not much because we played together for only one or two seasons. He’s had a great career.

For football players of your generation, Predator boots set a new standard in terms of game and design, do you agree with that?

Absolutely. It has changed indeed and it’s a good thing because adidas adapts its boots to the new generation. That’s great because the Predator evolved too, in the right direction. The most important thing of all is that those who wear the boots feel comfortable in them. Adidas is very good at that. I sound like I salesman don't I!? But I mean it, every game in my career I played in ultimate comfort.

Do you still have some of the Predator boots you wore in your career?

Of course, and especially my gold Predators from 2006. I have kept several pairs. Not at home in Madrid but at home in Marseille.