Zidane: Beckham will surprise people
Zinedine Zidane has promised David Beckham will surprise French football fans and told Canal+ the former England captain will teach certain members of the Paris Saint-Germain squad "what 'professionalism' means".
There has been no shortage of sceptics keen to air the view that Beckham's arrival at PSG on a five-month contract is nothing more than a marketing exercise. Zidane played alongside Beckham at Real Madrid between 2003 and 2006, though, and he says the 37-year-old will provide far more than mere window-dressing at the Parc des Princes.
"He's going to surprise you. It's a good thing," Zidane said. "He arrives three-quarters of an hour before training and leaves half an hour after everyone else. He's a truly great professional. He's going to show certain people what 'professionalism' means, and that can't hurt certain people today."
Beckham, who attended Tuesday evening's 2-1 Champions League win at Valencia and met his new team-mates, took part in his first full training session in Paris on Wednesday in front of dozens of camera crews.
The former LA Galaxy midfielder has not played competitively since the MLS final on December 1, and though he trained with PSG staff in London last week, Ancelotti has said Beckham will probably not be ready to face Sochaux on Sunday evening and would more likely make his first appearance against Marseille the following week.
Like many of the sceptics, Zidane does not expect to see Beckham play more than a bit-part role in PSG's bid for a first Ligue 1 title since 1994 but he believes his former team-mate's footballing qualities should not be underestimated, despite his advancing age.
"He's not there to play 90 minutes every game," Zidane said. "He's there to bring his touch, and that he can do in 20 minutes or half an hour. He has a way of taking free-kicks, a way of striking the ball that is different to others for cross-field balls of 30, 40 metres. I was fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of some of his cross-field passes. He's a guy who loves playing - at 37 he's still there, and he's not doing it for any reason other than the fact it's his passion."