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Saturday, 1 July, 2000, 10:54 GMT 11:54 UK
Zidane out of O'Neill's range
Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane leads the semi-final celebrations
Martin O'Neill reckons Zinedine Zidane might just be out of his price range after proving himself as the best player on the planet during Euro 2000.

The Celtic manager, having started pre-season training with his new club on Thursday amidst a hectic schedule, is completing his BBC duties as a television pundit at Sunday's final between France and Italy in Rotterdam.

And the Juventus playmaker is the man who has transcended his brilliant previous form to move onto a new plane.

As O'Neill steps up his endeavours to cut swathes into an estimated 20m transfer budget at Parkhead, Zidane is one player who must remain outside his reach.

In Zidane, France boast the player of the tournament

BBC pundit Martin O'Neill

"The French may not have been at their best against Portugal but undoubtedly have the necessary attributes to carry off this major championship," said O' Neill, adding: "In Zidane they possess the player of the tournament.

"Scoring two goals in a World Cup final may suggest it shouldn't get much better for you as a footballer. But Zidane looks an even better player than two years ago. His ball control is immaculate and he glides past opponents with slalom-esque ease.

Francesco Toldo
Francesco Toldo is O'Neill's pick of the goalkeepers

"Italy may well employ someone to man-mark him in the final but world-class players can overcome such obstacles and Zidane is probably playing better than anyone else on the planet just now."

O'Neill's runners-up in the player of the tournament stakes would be Luis Figo, of Portugal, and Francesco Toldo, the goalkeeper France must beat if they are to overcome Italy on Sunday night.

The former Northern Ireland captain said: "The competition has been very successful. Attacking football has for the most part been to the fore and France are looking the most complete side in Europe at the present time.

Toldo has had a few weeks to remember

Martin O'Neill
"Zidane and Figo have had outstanding tournaments but Toldo in the Italian goal has had a few weeks to remember.

"Starting nervously against Turkey, he has nevertheless grown in confidence with each game and he has played along with Alessandro Nesta and Fabio Cannavaro a major part in hauling Italy into the final.

"I've thoroughly enjoyed the tournament with the added bonus of the opportunity to see many more talented players at first hand than I might normally have been able to do.

"Combining this while working with the BBC lads has been much fun and travelling on the beeb bus, nicknamed the Lineker/ Hansen Express, has been revelationary."

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See also:

30 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Final advert for Serie A
30 Jun 00 | Euro2000
France v Italy: Head to head
28 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Zidane sends France through
23 Jun 00 | The BBC Team
Look to future, O'Neill urges England
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