Jamel Debbouze: "Zidane is a king forced to wear his crown all his life"

When we think of Zidane, we think of roulette, tonsure, red card, turtleneck, Volvic, first star, Arc de Triomphe… but also, of course, “Zimdine Zimdane”. Interview with the father of this pseudonym and huge admirer of Zizou: Jamel Debbouze.

Do you remember the first time you heard of Zinédine Zidane?
It’s a bit confusing, because it’s happened in the neighborhood of so many different places. Almost suddenly. There was a Kabyle in Cannes who did crazy things. And the first time I saw him play was in Bordeaux. I was there, I forced the invitation. I wanted to see this miracle.

“We must have had to deal with the same difficulties, we got through them without being frontal, without ever holding a grudge against anyone, we were never revengeful. We have this common love of France. »

And the first meeting? I read that it was in Clairefontaine. You said: “When we looked at each other, something very strong happened. » What ?
We met in 1997, something like that. I was on H, I was playing my show at the same time. It happened that I fell in love with number 10 of the France team. That a guy of my generation, who comes from more or less the same place as me, who grew up in a neighborhood, La Castellane, our parents had the same background, that he wears the jersey of the France team with the crest on his chest, and that he is as strong as Maradona and Pelé… Well yeah, that does something. There are so many things in common… We must have had to deal with the same difficulties, we got through them without being frontal, without ever holding a grudge against anyone, we were never vengeful. We have this common love of France.

Which of the two was more intimidated?
Me. (Silence.) Him. (Silence.) No, but me. Frankly, so does he. We brag, but when we get hit, we don’t bring it back. I was very impressed, he has such charisma.

Did you manage to say things to each other?
I told him : ” How are you ? » He responded to me : “Very good. And you? » I answered him : “It’s going well, yeah. » He told me : “I’m glad to know you. »

He told you he had your two DVDs…
Oh yes. But that was later. When I went to see him at Real. One day, I saw in the trunk of his car a DVD of my show and one of the best-of. It really touched me. (Laughs.) He was a fan, and it was unsettling when a legend likes your work. I was lucky enough to find myself in his hotel room, in the green with the Galactics. In the corridor, there was Roberto Carlos and Figo playing in their underwear with a tennis ball… It will mark me all my life, because I felt like I was with the guys in my neighborhood.

His father Smaïl says in his autobiography that Zidane in private is really different from the public figure. How different is it?
When he’s with his friends, when he doesn’t feel judged, obviously he lets go. He’s one of the funniest and most lively guys I know. It’s a phew even. He’s messing around. He’s the clown of his family, always putting in a good mood. But I don’t have the impression that Zidane is perceived as someone who is not a good person. With the France 1998 team, he relaunched I Will Survive. It’s nothing though… (Laughs.) We met through laughter, we started messing around and we didn’t stop, like in the neighborhoods, where we spend our time playing down, laughing at everything.

“He’s one of the funniest and most lively guys I know. It’s a phew even. He’s messing around. He’s the clown of his family, always putting in a good mood. »

Yet another quote. You once said: “Everyone would dream of being Zinedine Zidane. » Isn’t it hard to be a living legend?
Everyone would dream of being Zidane when he’s in the penalty area. Or when he dances like the Bolshoi. It’s like this fantasy of being king. We are not talking about a president, elected for a few months or years. Zidane is like a king forced to wear this crown all his life. These people are imprisoned in their legend. The guy is a legend in his lifetime, damn it! This whim to Materazzi shook up the whole Earth, but it brought some things back to normal. Already for him. We all put it too high. For a human, it can be heavy to bear. Even if frankly, he wears it very well. Look what he did after… Three Champions Leagues, it’s incredible. And this family… It stands on solid foundations and great values.

Do you understand the criticisms of personalities like Rachid Taha or JoeyStarr who complain about its apolitical side and lukewarm water tap?
He is right to have the position he holds. He does not need to represent. To give an opinion is to divide. He is captain of the France team, he is number 10, he wears the armband, so he is obliged to federate and unite. Those who are not happy, let them eat cheese. (Laughs.) I want to answer them: “Already do a quarter of what he has done. » If only by playing as he played, he collected. In a crazy way. He helped us win the World Cup. He was off to a bad start, however.

“He abolished racism for 48 hours. » It’s one of the sentences in your speech at the UNFP ceremony for the presentation of his trophy of honor in 2007. Behind the joke, how much do you believe in saying it?
I believe it when I say it. It was the Jospin-Chirac era. There was cohabitation. The National Front was at its lowest. Even economically, France’s coffers were full. And those two goals, they made that happen. It didn’t last long, but we got to taste it. Especially me. I remember a cover of Teleramathe title : “Beur is beautiful. » (Laughs.) I don’t think they would headline that today. This sentence at the UNFP ceremony was thought, lived and felt. I was so proud to have told him. I wrote it with Jean-Pierre Bacri, if you want to know everything. You have to give credit where credit is due to Bacri. It’s hours of conversation around Zidane, the France team, France, the good time we tasted. Well after, there was September 11… (Laughs.) There, we had to reorganize.

How did you convince him to play in Asterix at the Olympic Games?
There were two things. First, I found a great blase: Numberdix. Just for this valve, he laughed for half an hour. And then, being in Asterix is ​​still cool, a new experience for him. It’s a magnificent postcard of my life, this sequence, I see it again from time to time. It’s stupid we didn’t film the rehearsals in his dressing room. There was Véronique, we really worked. His reply “Fuck, my thing is rotten” he swung it directly, as if we were going to a party and that I had a better suit than him.

Did you feel stressed? Did you do a lot of takes?
But not at all. We weren’t working, we were having fun with friends. Really. I have that with professionals, with Gad… It was one of the best moments of my life. One, I make a scene with Zinédine Zidane. But what is the jackpot? It’s that I meet the woman of my life on the set. (Mélissa Theuriau, who came to write a subject for Restricted zoneEd.) This shoot is very dear to my heart, it is full of many things. I was so happy, relaxed. Him too. It was a recreation.

Were you also comfortable on the day of the match against poverty between the friends of Zidane and Ronaldo, when you receive a pass from Zizou and find yourself face to face with the goalkeeper in front of the entire public at the Vélodrome?
It’s crazy the parallel, because that’s exactly what I was going to tell you. He put me so at ease, that I was completely de-stressed. Little crossing of legs the air of nothing. On a deep pass from Zinedine Zidane. Small net, cousin. Unstoppable. (Laughs.) He has this power to put people in the best mood. And I took the example of guys like him when I had to do Le Marrakech du rire or the Jamel Comedy Club. When you have a team and you have to bring people, you have to be really relaxed.

With him, it’s natural, you would say?
Yeah. You have seen how he leads his teams on the field or on the bench. It’s intrinsic, almost animal. He has a ninth sense. A spatial intelligence different from ours. He doesn’t see a square like you. He does not know that he is a mathematician. He thinks he’s a footballer.

“He has a ninth sense. A spatial intelligence different from ours. He doesn’t see a square like you. He does not know that he is a mathematician. He thinks he’s a footballer. »

Crazy fact: he thinks you were in his room before the 2006 final.
Before the match ? No it is wrong. But I was there in 1998, the evening after the final, at Clairefontaine. I did a ride like that, on the sly. He was more serious than all the others. 2006 on the other hand, I was in the stadium.

How did you experience that?
I arrived late. Fortunately, the guy had a television in his taxi. It was sizzling, but I saw the panenka. I arrived at the stadium and afterwards, brother, I understood nothing. Because we couldn’t see well. There was such a blur… When we finally understood, it was a cataclysm. You don’t know how to live it. I cried. And I returned home.

Did you really call your daughter Zizou?
(He calls his daughter Lila.) Zizou, come see. Say ” hello ” . (She says “hello”.) He had such an effect on us. We were carried by him and by this whole generation. Well yeah, obviously I almost called my daughter Zizou until my wife intervened. He is a man who has been very important in my life. He was driving, deeply. It is thanks to him, unconsciously, that I have done so many things. I swear. The first Marrakech du rire, I give you a scoop, it was doomed to die in the bud. A week before, there is the attack of Argana (name of the café on the Jemaa el-Fna square where a bomb, operated remotely, exploded on April 28, 2011, editor’s note), people were afraid to come. He was the first to say yes to me, and everyone landed. Behind, me and Omar Sy, we do a sketch where we say that we cut off our legs and that we go to sell them in Jemaa el-Fna square… (Laughs.) Her mom didn’t like it, and I apologize a thousand times over if it touched her. My mother would have reacted the same way, except that she would have tried to find me.

It had to end with a quote. You said it in a joking tone. But how much “he’s the man of your life” ?
Are you dumb or what? Do you want me to come out? (Laughs.)

Interview taken from our book dedicated to Zinédine Zidane, available here.

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