Michael Schumacher and Zinedine Zidane

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, Barcelona, 2007Michael Schumacher will give the retired French international footballer Zinedine Zidane a passenger ride at the French Grand Prix.

You can’t miss the irony. Both retired last year despite stoking great controversy in their swansong seasons.

Schumacher was thrown to the back of the grid at Monte-Carlo for deliberately blocking the circuit. Zidane was sent off from his final match – the World Cup final, no less – for headbutting rival Marco Materazzi.

The parallels between the two run deeper through their brilliant yet chequered pasts.

F1 drivers know the various Schumacher controversies well – not least the ‘professional fouls’ on Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve in championship-deciding races.

Zidane, who was named World Player of the Year three times, was also sent off for headbutting an opponent during a Champions League match in the 2000/01 season.

I suspect the public relations exercise at Magny-Cours will play down these obvious and unfortunate similarities between two controversial greats of their sports.

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