On 8 September 1999, Armenia national football team hosted the world champion France in the Euro-2000 qualifier.
Every football fan in Armenia was eager to see the champions and the national team was eager to play with them. France has brought their best: Zinedine Zidane, Youri Djorkaeff, Fabien Barthez, Didier Deschamps.
The guests left after the game, but Zidane’s shirt remained, kept by Armenia captain Vardan Khachatryan.
Mediamax Sport has talked with Vardanyan, who has been keeping the shirt with care. We present the story in this edition of In One Shot.
“I will never forget the game against France. We were playing in Yerevan and even went ahead in the first half, when Karapet Mikaelyan scored in the 6th minute.
The fans watched a real struggle that day. We were doing our best, but the French managed to equalize through Djorkaeff’s goal and then Zidane and Lilian Laslandes scored. Armen Shahgeldyan scored our second in the end of the game, but we lost.
The match is unforgettable because of the emotional component as well. I remember thousands of different feelings passing though us, but our aim and determination not to lose were clear.
I have had the honor to play against and exchange shirts with many distinguished, famous players such as Fernando Hierro, Jurgen Klinsman, Zinedine Zidane. I only keep Zidane’s shirt, though, I have gifted the rest to my friends.
He was a special player. You couldn’t rob him of the ball. He was a real master and even when you played against him, you admired his game. I am happy I have met him.
The president and many senior officials were on the stadium during that game and later offered me money for Zidane’s shirt – USD 10,000. They offer even more now, but I will never give it away. It holds value beyond money for me.