Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard and more remember Zinedine Zidane’s “best goal of all time”

Zidane’s goal won the 2002 final for Real Madrid (Image: Eric Renard / Icon Sport via Getty Images)

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On May 15, 2002, Real Madrid went up against Bayer Leverkusen for Champions League glory. With the help of one of the best ever goals in a European final, they got it.

Some 20 years on, Zinedine Zidane's volley remains very much in the 'greatest of all time' conversation. A volley from distance, with his wrong foot, from what was hardly the perfect ball in from Roberto Carlos, at 1-1 in the Champions League final – yeah, that's going to take some beating.

It's a goal which France Football considered the most beautiful ever in the Champions League, in a final or otherwise. The beauty is what elevates it above others, and it's what means now – two decades on – it's still appreciated around the world.

Those who were inside Hampden Park for the final remember the goal fondly, but they're not the only ones. Here, Mirror Football looks at the comments from players past and present about a goal few will ever forget.

Roberto Carlos

Roberto Carlos was the man who provided the assist for Zidane's goal. The Brazilian's cross looped up, forcing his teammate to keep an intense focus before delivering the killer shot to beat goalkeeper Hans-Jorg Butt.

Speaking to UEFA in 2020, the left-back defended his own role before heaping praise on Zidane specifically. "People say ‘That was a terrible pass’ and I say ‘Terrible?’ he said.

"It was perfect, on the spot, just high enough and it landed on Zizou’s left foot because he wouldn’t be able to strike it with his right foot. He scored a beautiful goal but if it wasn’t for that pass, if the pass hadn’t been so perfect … That pass was terrible!"

Butt was unable to keep out the shot
(Image: Daily Record)

Eden Hazard

It's not just those around in 2002 who appreciated the quality. Indeed, those who have followed Zidane to the Bernabeu have held the goal in similar esteem.

Hazard played under Zidane in Madrid when the World Cup winner was manager, and the Belgian made the right noises upon arriving in Spain. Things might not have worked out for Hazard in Madrid since his 2019 move, but in September of that year he heaped praise on Zizou.

At a Mahou event ahead of the Madrid derby, he was asked about the "best goal of all time" and his answer was simple. "Zidane's volley against Bayer Leverkusen".

Hazard would go on to play under Zidane
(Image: REUTERS)

Gareth Bale

Perhaps the biggest competitor to Zidane's 'greatest ever' crown came in 2018, when Bale scored another stunner in a Champions League final for Real Madrid. His bicycle kick against Liverpool wasn't officially the winner, with the Welshman scoring again to make it 3-1, but to argue otherwise is splitting hairs.

Two years before that goal, ahead of a final against Atletico Madrid, Bale waxed lyrical about the 2002 Zidane effort. The Welshman didn't score in 2016, when Zidane was in the dugout for a penalty shoot-out victory, but Bale's moment would arrive later.

“I think my favourite Champions League moment growing up would have to be that Zinedine Zidane volley against Bayer Leverkusen,” the former Spurs star said. “I was a big fan of Real Madrid as a kid, so to win the Champions League with a goal like that was really something special.

Bale's 2018 goal also has a 'best ever' claim
(Image: Getty Images)

Santi Solari

Solari was the man who could boast the 'pre-assist' for Zidane's goal, sending the ball forward from which Roberto Carlos fed the scorer. The Argentine would later take charge of Los Blancos for a brief spell, and in a 2017 interview with ESPN he shared his thoughts on Zidane's brilliance.

"It all went so fast, I didn't have time to think, but I had a great view of the goal — better than any of the cameras," Solari said. "I saw him aiming and when you see him start to make that movement, you know he is going to shoot.

"It was amazing: he caught it very high, with his left foot. It was a one-in-a-lifetime, a magical technical gesture.

"Zizou knew instantly it was a work of art, and he celebrated the goal in a way I hadn't seen him celebrate ever before. If you go through all the goals in his career — no — I think this was the one he celebrated the most.

"For people to remember goals and make the jump from sports to the wider public, there has to be something extra. In this case, the finish is so artistic, it's in the 45th minute, on the 100th anniversary of the club, in the final of the Champions League, and it is the winner. So many elements make it special."

Solari had one of the best views in the house as Zidane scored
(Image: Daily Record)

Jens Nowotny

It wasn't just the Real Madrid players who were blown away by the goal. Jens Nowotny would have started the final in Leverkusen's defence were it not for injury, and he shared his thoughts in the same ESPN piece.

"Zidane's goal was, technically, perfect," the German said. "Nobody expected he would score like that in that kind of situation.

"Normally a player would take the ball and try to do something, but not shoot directly. The goalkeeper and defence were surprised.

"You can say the best player in the world scored, and nobody should be sad about that, but it was one of only three chances Real Madrid had. It was great to see the goal but not against our team."