Back From Retirement Zinedine Zidane Predicts France Will Qualify for 2006 World Cup

PARIS (AP) - After more than a year retired from the national team Zinedine Zidane says his return is inspired by a desire to recapture the form that steered France to the top of international soccer.

Zidane and Claude Makelele announced their return to the French national team on Wednesday.

"I have got my motivation back Zidane said on Canal Plus television in an interview Thursday. "I want to find my old level again. I want to win everything."

With the first of four crucial World Cup qualifying matches beginning in September France is fourth in Group 4 and needs Zidane to help it qualify for next year's tournament in Germany.

France has 10 points from six matches three points behind leader Ireland two back from Switzerland and a further point behind Israel. Ireland and Israel have played an extra game.

"Even if it is hard to qualify I want to remain positive Zidane said. "I am convinced that the French team will be at the World Cup very optimistic. We have no right to think otherwise."

Zidane is expected to make his comeback in a friendly match against Ivory Coast on Aug. 17 - exactly 11 years after marking his France debut with two goals against the Czech Republic.

He retired after last summer's European Championship where France exited in the quarterfinals and insisted he would never return.

However time spent away with family and talks with France coach Raymond Domenech persuaded him to change his mind.

"I went on holiday for 32 days and I thought it's not possible (to stay away) Zidane said. "It was clear in my head and categorical a year ago. Today is a different matter I want to come back."

Zidane also said he has "no doubt" that Lilian Thuram will also return. Juventus defender Thuram was one of several key players - including Marcel Desailly and Bixente Lizarazu - to retire last summer.

Zidane predicted that he and Thuram "will be in blue together at the (2006) World Cup."

Zidane scored two goals in the 3-0 World Cup final win over Brazil in 1998 starred in the 2000 European Championship win and has scored 26 goals in 93 international appearances.

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