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Top facts about Bixente Lizarazu, Liza

Thu 30 September 2021 | 14:30

Bixente Lizarazu is probably the least celebrated out of the famous France 98 defense, including Thuram, Desailly, and Blanc. Read on to find out more facts about Bixente Lizarazu.

Bixente Lizarazu, born on 9 December 1969 in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, was a French international footballer who played in the left-back position from the late 1980s until the mid-2000s.

Bixente Lizarazu’s age

is 51. Here you can find out all the important facts about Bixente Lizarazu, the former French defender.

Bixente Lizarazu was trained in his native Basque country, he joined the Girondins of

Bordeaux

where he started as a professional. He played eight seasons at the club with which he finished vice-champion of France 1990, champion of D2 1992 then finalist of the UEFA Cup 1996. He was elected several times as best left back of the French championship.

In 2004, he wanted to return to France, but his six months at Olympique de Marseille were a failure and he decided to return to Munich. For his last two seasons, he made two double German championship cups. In all, he won six Bundesliga, five German Cups and as many League Cups.

During his years at the Bayern, he was voted the best left-back in the Bundesliga several times. During his career, Lizarazu was considered one of the best players in his position.

Together with the French team, Lizarazu was first semi-finalist of Euro 1996 and, once on the team, won the 1998 World Cup as well as the 2000 European Championship and two Confederations Cups. The Basque is part of one of the best defenses in the history of Les Bleus with Blanc, Desailly and Thuram.

Top facts about Bixente Lizarazu:

An important

fact about Bixente Lizarazu

is that after the European final, he joined the Basque club of Athletic Bilbao where, suffering from an injury, he played little and decided to stay only one season. He joined

Bayern Munich

where he contested the German championship title and the Champions League every year.

Bixente Lizarazu early life

Speaking about

Bixente Lizarazu’s childhood

, it should be mentioned that as a child, he quickly got into the sport by practicing skiing with his parents and brother, surfing, rugby union and football by signing a license within the Hendaye Églantins club.

In September 1983, at almost fourteen, he joined Mérignac, where, after a year of presence, he was noticed by the recruiters of the Girondins de Bordeaux who did everything to attract the young Basque.

Speaking about

Bixente Lizarazu’s parents

, it is worth mentioning that at first, his parents did not agree to let him leave at that age while Bixente hesitated to move towards tennis or football. Finally, he threw his devotion on the football.

Bixente Lizarazu personal life

Although his first name at birth is «Bixente», the administrative authorities registered him with the first name «Vincent». In 1996, Lizarazu obtained, by dint of legal proceedings, the right to be called «Bixente», which became his official first name on his identity card.

Lizarazu was the companion of singer Elsa from 1999 to 2006. In December 2000, Bixente Lizarazu received a letter at his parents' home. It contained death threats from the Euskadi ta Askatasuna which asked him to pay the "revolutionary tax", accusing Lizarazu of having taken the colors of an "enemy country", France. Following the threats, Lizarazu was protected by two bodyguards delegated by state.

Since July 2006, Bixente is in a relationship with actress Claire Keim, with whom he has a daughter named Uhaina, born in August 2008. He is also the father of a boy named Tximista born in 1995 from previous marriage.

Bixente Lizarazu professional career

A notable

fact about Bixente Lizarazu

is that he became uneasy with the discussion about his identity and ancestry throughout his career, and the Basque separatist group ETA, a terrorist organization, threatened to demand a ransom from him since he played national football for France and domestic football in France and Germany.

“We are worried and outraged because you have supported the colors of an enemy state...,” read a letter to him. You were handsomely compensated for wearing the uniform of an oppressive state with funds stolen from the Basque people.

“Taking into account the advantages you gained from the adversary, ETA shifts his attention to you. A lack of reaction invites retaliation against you and your family.”

Injury and a squabble with manager Luis Fernandez created problems on the field in Bilbao, and he joined Bayern Munich in the summer of 1997, the team that defeated Bordeaux in the final of their legendary UEFA Cup run.

Bixente Lizarazu club career

From an early age, he had been interested in a variety of sports. Lizarazu started his professional career as a winger with Bordeaux, entering the club's junior system as a 15-year-old in 1984.

Bordeaux

An important

fact about Bixente Lizarazu

is that he impressed the coaches with his dedication and became a part of the senior team in 1988, with striker Christophe Dugarry, after being warned as a youngster that he would not be able to make a career out of football owing to his weak physique.

On the advice of Coach Didier Couécou, he was retrained to play as a counter-attacking left defender and quickly displaced veteran Gernot Rohr (later to become the club's manager) in the position.

Bordeaux placed second in the French championship in 1990, but were administratively demoted the following year due to financial difficulties. Lizarazu stayed with the club and was instrumental in their rapid return to the first division in 1992.

The club also recruited

Zinedine Zidane

, who became a key part of the squad over the following three seasons, helping them to two fourth-place finishes and a seventh-place finish, with Lizarazu making 101 appearances and scoring 15 goals.

Bordeaux claimed the UEFA Intertoto Cup in the summer of 1995, qualifying for the 1995–96 UEFA Cup. Under manager Rohr, they would reach the final, defeating Real Betis, A.C. Milan, and Slavia Prague until losing 5–1 on aggregate to Bayern Munich. However, their league performance deteriorated, and they were relegated to 16th place.

Following UEFA Euro 1996, in which Dugarry, Zidane, and Lizarazu were all part of the French squad that reached the semi-finals, the three moved abroad in search of a new challenge: Zidane to

Juventus

, Dugarry to Milan, and Lizarazu to Athletic Bilbao, which is based in the same region of the French Basque Country as Bordeaux. He scored 28 goals in 299 appearances for his first club.

Athletic Bilbao

A notable fact about Bixente Lizarazu is that after being the first Frenchman to play for Athletic, he played just one season with the La Liga club, which has a policy of exclusively choosing players of Basque origin or ancestry.

Lizarazu was unable to replace the veteran Aitor Larrazábal at left defender due to a chronic groin ailment, got two red cards in his 16 league games, and had disputes with the head coach, compatriot Luis Fernández. He joined Bayern Munich in the close season of 1997.

Bayern Munich

An important

fact about Bixente Lizarazu

is that he won a title with his new club before ever playing a Bundesliga match, winning the first edition of the DFL-Ligapokal.

Despite several severe ailments, he went on to win six Bundesliga titles (notably 3 in a row between 1999 and 2001), 5 DFB-Pokals, the Champions League in 2001 (hitting his penalty in the shootout), and the Intercontinental Cup.

He was the first athlete to be a reigning European and World champion in both club and international soccer after capturing the Intercontinental Cup in 2001. Lizarazu said that he will quit Bayern Munich in the summer of 2004 and join

Olympique Marseille

. However, he moved to Bayern Munich in January 2005 after just six months in France.

A notable fact about Bixente Lizarazu is that he wore the number 69 during his second stint with Bayern, which ended in 2006 when he was replaced by

Philipp Lahm

.

He said that this was not a sexual gesture, and that it was because he was born in 1969, stood 1.69 m tall, and weighed 69 kg. Between 1997 and 2006, he made 268 appearances for Bayern in all competitions, scoring eight goals. 183 of these matches took place in Germany's top division.

Bixente Lizarazu international career

An important fact about Bixente Lizarazu is that he had his debut in the French team in November 1992 when Gérard Houllier called him up for a match against Finland (2-1 victory).

Because he was born in the Basque Country, he was eligible to play with the Basque Country football team. Although this team is not official, it brings together all the Basques (Spanish and French). On December 22, 1993, the Basque Country faced Bolivia, ahead of 23,000 people, in San Sebastian and won the 3-1 match.

Lizarazu took nearly four years to establish a lasting presence among the Bleus. Sometimes used as a wildcard in the middle left and barred at the back left by Éric Di Meco, Lizarazu only became full holder in the French team during Euro 1996.

A notable fact about Bixente Lizarazu is that he was associated with Laurent Blanc, Marcel Desailly and Lilian Thuram. In his first major international competition, he reached the semi-finals and lost against the

Czech Republic

.

Arriving at Bayern Munich in 1997, still embarrassed, Lizarazu saw the visit of the coach since 1993, Aimé Jacquet. Bixente reports: “I went from the bottom of the hole to the top of the world in six months. He came to see me in Munich and said, "Do whatever it takes in terms of care, recovery, training, get back to 100% and you will be my left back.”

At the 1998 World Cup, he was seen mostly at the start of the competition for his incessant climbs on the left side and his energy debauchery. A scorer and passer in front of Saudi Arabia in the first round, the Basque man died down a little as the competition went on, finding it difficult to maintain the same tone.

During the quarterfinal against Italy, his shot at goal was stopped by Gianluca Pagliuca, which did not prevent France from imposing itself.

An important fact about Bixente Lizarazu is that he became one of the pillars of the best defenses in the world from 1998 to 2000. Thanks to his perfect understanding with Zinédine Zidane on the left side, his offensive contribution was also very valuable.

With Les Bleus, Bixente Lizarazu won the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 European Nations Championship. According to the book Sciences Sociales Football Club, the number of babies named Bixente (as well as the number of babies named Zinédine and Lillian) exploded after the 1998 World Cup, which illustrates the impact of France 98's victory on French society.

During the 2001-2002 season, he became the second French player in history (after Didier Deschamps) to hold world and European titles, both in club (Champions League and Intercontinental Cup in 2001 with Bayern Munich) and in national selection (World Cup 1998 and Euro 2000).

Bixente Lizarazu retired from the international squad after a quarterfinal loss against Greece in Euro 2004. In this match, Lizarazu was surprised by Theódoros Zagorákis on his left side. The Greek player made a decisive pass for Ángelos Charistéas, who scored the only goal of the encounter and eliminated the French team from the competition He had 97 appearances in the French team and scored two goals.

Bixente Lizarazu style of play

A notable fact about Bixente Lizarazu is that he was often named with contemporaries

Roberto Carlos

and

Paolo Maldini

in an era of really outstanding left backs. However, whereas the previous two have acquired almost cult-like reputation in the game, 'Liza' has faded into obscurity and is seldom mentioned as a defensive great.

He is, in reality, the least well-known of the famed France 98 defense, which also included Thuram, Desailly, and Blanc. Lizarazu's lack of swagger and carefree manner of play is one of the main reasons behind this.

He was a tiny guy with a calm demeanor, going about his business competently and quietly, without attracting the attention of others. Aside from his lack of leadership and flexibility (similar to Roberto Carlos in that he could only play as a left back), our research revealed that he was one of the most ideally balanced full-backs of all time.

We saw a lot of his defensive duels with the magnificent Luis Figo, and although Roberto Carlos had some shaky moments among generally great defense, Lizarazu was near-impeccable. He was a tough client to deal with because of his low center of gravity, heightened sense of anticipation, and fast responses.

When it came to tackling, he possessed great technique and timing, as well as enough bite to make wingers nervous about hanging the ball too long in front of him. His main 'defensive' flaw was that he wasn't very strong in the air, but even so, he was capable of following runs to the far post and winning headers against the odds at times.

From an offensive standpoint, Lizarazu never fully lived up to his full potential. He had a more direct impact in the final third during his youth (31 of his goals came before his transfer to Bayern Munich), but as he progressed to larger teams and played more games, coaches wanted to emphasize his rock-solid defense and he was allowed less freedom to push forward.

This is disappointing since he was a strong crosser, agile on the ball, and had a nice left peg stroke. He was also deft in possession, seldom making sloppy passes and gliding with the ball with grace. During the height of his career, he just wasn't given enough opportunities to do so.

In conclusion, Lizarazu was the 'ideal' left back, with a strong two-way game. As he gained popularity, his defensive abilities were emphasized by his managers at both club and international levels, and his style lacked the penetration in the attacking third that would allow him to match the box-to-box impact of someone like Roberto Carlos.

As a result, his direct impact on games was less noticeable, and it wasn't until he was confronted with large-scale threats that he really came into his own. He struggled against opponents who did not rush at him, like

David Beckham

, who in the 1998/99 season was able to hold the tenacious Frenchman at bay by transferring the ball early and avoiding having to run at Liza in one-on-one situations.

Bixente Lizarazu legacy

On November 27, 2001, a Frenchman ruled the world of football. No one on Earth had ever won the World Cup, European Champion, Champions League holder, or Intercontinental Cup, and according to UEFA and FIFA, he was also the greatest in his position.

It wasn't Zinedine Zidane, however. It was Bayern Munich's rampaging left-back Bixtente Lizarazu, and even that wasn't enough.

He was discovered in the highlands, where he was already a great athlete, but despite his brilliance elsewhere, a future in football awaited him.

The youthful Lizarazu was sent to Bordeaux, but there were concerns that his diminutive stature (he stands at 5ft 7in) might cost him. He never gave up, and by the age of 19, he had forced his way into the first team, assisting them in finishing second in the Ligue in 1989/90.

By the mid-1990s, he had established himself, and Bordeaux's incredible run from the Intertoto Cup to the UEFA Cup final in 1996 cemented Lizarazu's reputation.

After a contentious and underwhelming move to La Liga, he became the first non-Spanish Basque to play for

Athletic Bilbao

.

Lizarazu regarded himself as a comparable attacking left-back to Roberto Carlos, which was just what the Bavarians need. He won the DFB-Pokal in his first season before Bayern found their stride, winning three championships in a row.

Lizarazu was injured in the 1999 Champions League final, but one has to question whether his additional skill would have made the difference in getting a second goal and putting Manchester United out of reach.

It didn't matter; the defeat inspired the squad to victory against Valencia two years later, when he was able to exorcise a personal demon.

Lizarazu had won the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championship in 2000 with France, but he had missed a penalty against Italy in 1998 and vowed he would never take another penalty again.

But he was required in 2001, when Valencia led Bayern to the final following a 1-1 draw, and the score was 3-3 after the first five takers.

Lizarazu had taken spot-kicks with Bordeaux, but this was a whole other level. With a wild-eyed look, Santiago Canizares attempted to scare him away. “I was shooting as if I wanted to put the goalie in the goal as well. He remarked of his hard effort, "I shoot like crazy."

The following two penalties are scored by Kily Gonzalez and Thomas Linke, before

Oliver Kahn

saves Mauricio Pellegrino's attempt to give Bayern the title. Lizarazu's abilities drew interest from other elite teams, notably Manchester United.

‘I had the opportunity to go to Manchester United in 2001 or 2002, but it was cut short when Bayern Munich said no,' Lizarazu told FourFourTwo. ‘Alex Ferguson was eager to sign me, and United had negotiations with Bayern, but Bayern said that I would not be going and that I would be remaining with them.' ‘I had a great time in Munich, but Manchester United gave it their all.'

At the time, the Scotsman was willing to express his admiration for Lizarazu and fellow countryman Zidane.

Ferguson told the News of the World, "The player is extremely eager to join us as soon as possible." “I'm pursuing six guys in the hopes of getting three,” says the scout. This is true of all of the major teams.

“I just went back in for [Zinedine] Zidane, but Juventus manager Roberto Bettega urged me to stop wasting my time. Juventus wants to develop, as does everyone else,” he added.

Lizarazu made 273 games for Bayern Munich during two stints with the club; the less said about a single season at Marseille, when he won six league championships and the Champions League, the better.

When he smacked club icon,

Lothar Matthaus

, in pre-season training in 1999, he was fined, and others viewed his choice to wear the number 69 jersey in his second stint as obscene.

He said it was because Lucio wore his old No. 3 shirt, was born in 1969, was 1.69 meters tall, and weighed 69 kilos.

Bixente Lizarazu other activities

While some professionals find it difficult to adjust to life after retirement, the Frenchman was eager to begin his new experiences.

“I was heartbroken; it was horrible. But, in the end, I was bored of certain aspects of my work and, more importantly, I want to be free once again. I wanted to be on [my] own terms. I wanted to make all of the decisions.

“I had a lot on my plate, and I had to be very patient. I had a desire to travel.” He resigned in 2006 and won the European Championship in Brazilian JuJitsu again in 2009, this time in the Blue Belt Senior 1 Light Division.

Lizarazu continues to practice and teach the martial art, but he's also pursued other interests. He enjoys surfing and scuba diving, and he may often be seen riding over the Pyrenees' highest slopes.

He pushed himself to climb the most difficult mountains in France, as you do, to show he was over a recent surfing accident in which he was knocked unconscious and tore a tendon in his leg. He enjoys skiing as well.

Meanwhile, he works as a commentator for TV and newspapers in his country, and ex-Manchester United and France player

Patrice Evra

has called him a "tramp" for remarks he made in 2014.

He also finds time to create documentaries, such as assisting in the filming of a program on sharks in Polynesia.

Lizarazu has had an incredible life, and even lockdown couldn't keep him from posting training videos, as well as photos and videos of his travels, on social media platforms. “It's difficult for me to quit doing sports,” he stated in 2017. “I want to be an athlete till the very last second.”

Bixente Lizarazu social media

Regarding

Bixente Lizarazu social media

, it should be mentioned that he has an Instagram page (

@bixentelizarazu

) with 224k followers. In the page we can see various pictures of him with the fans and his family.

He also has a Twitter account (

@BixeLizarazu

) with more than 343k followers. He often posts new stuff on his Twitter page.

Bixente Lizarazu body measurements

Speaking about

Bixente Lizarazu body measurements

, it should be mentioned that the former French defender is 5 ft 7 in (169 cm) and weighs 143 lb (65 kg).

Bixente Lizarazu net worth and salary

Bixente Lizarazu's net worth

has increased substantially in 2021, according to different sources. The figures, however, differ depending on the source.

Bixente Lizarazu is believed to have a net worth of $16 million dollars. From his main profession as a soccer player, he has amassed a substantial fortune.

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