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Tuesday, 27 June, 2000, 07:52 GMT 08:52 UK
Vieira: Zidane is my hero
Midfielder Patrick Vieira believes the mere presence of Zinedine Zidane in the French side is raising his own game to a new level.
The Arseanl player has played a significant part in helping France into the semi-finals of Euro 2000, but his quality has been overshadowed by Zidane's level of performance, illustrated against Spain on Sunday.
The Juventus playmaker scored one of the goals that beat the Spanish but also impressed the watching millions with his control, passing and vision.
Those qualities obviously left an imprint on Vieira.
"I never played with him at club level as he'd just left Cannes when I arrived. But he has always been my hero and an example to every young player in France with his skill, touch, spirit, in fact everything," said the player.
"If you play alongside him, you just want to perform like him. He lifts you so much. When you see him fight for the ball, you want to fight with him and fight for him.
"He makes me raise my own game and makes it easier for me. He plays the ball to your feet. Whether you give him a good ball or a bad ball, he doesn't lose it. In fact, he turns a bad pass into a good pass."
French boss Roger Lemerre must nevertheless decide exactly how he can best give free rein to the talents of Zidane in tomorrow's semi-final against Portugal, who boast the attacking talents of not only Figo but also Rui Costa.
Against Spain, Lemerre essentially went with five men in midfield, Vieira's graft and Zidane's falir were supplemented by Christophe Dugarry, Youri Djourkaeff and Didier Deschamps.
But the French coach can now go with a more orthodox 4-4-2 system and allow Nicolas Anelka to continue his partnership with Thierry Henry.
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