If one had to determine who was the greatest French player to have ever played the game, I would summit that Zinedine Zidane is the French the G.O.A.T.(greatest of all time)
Those who saw Michel Platini played for the national team while he played in Saint-Étienne and in Juventus of Turin may consider him the best French player of all-time. Michel Platini drastically changed the notion that France could not win in major competitions. Before the Platini arrived, France played good soccer, qualified for most of the World Cups and European Championships, but never won any of them. Our best result before him had been a third place in the1958 World Cup when France was led by the great Just Fontaine and the great Raymond Kopa.
Much later Platini and its magic square partners were robbed in the World Cup semifinals against Germany in 1982, but managed to win France’s second third place in the competition. In his first World Cup, in 1982, Platini and company resumed hope in France that we were good enough to compete with Italy, Germany, England, Brazil and Argentina. Sure enough in our hosted Euro in 1984, Platini led “les Bleus” to victory scoring nine goals including a free kick goal in the final in the Park of Princes in Paris. For Most French of a certain generation he is the greatest of all-time for he made us win our first major competition. On top of that, Michel Platini did it at home surmounting the tremendous pressure that was put on him and his team.
I think Platini was great. I believe he that he is among the 10 greatest players of all time. However, I believe that he is the second greatest French player of all-time only second to Zidane.
Zidane won the world cup at home, in France, in 1998 scoring two goals in a 3-0 win over the tournament favorite of Brazil. Confirming that France was the best team on the planet, France went on to win the Euro 2000 making an historical double. Zidane was one of the best players of the tournament, and he scored a decisive beautiful free kick against Spain in quarterfinals and a critical golden goal against Portugal in the semifinals to qualify France for the final.
However, in the 2002, France was eliminated in the first round in an utter humiliation. France played without its best player Zidane for the first two games for he got injured 5 five days before the start of the competition. France lost two out three games and left the competition without scoring a goal. France came back from the Far East disillusioned and humiliated.
In Portugal for the 2004 Euro France was not the favorite, but it came out strong off the group stages with a blazing hot Zidane who scored three goals including a double against England to win a game that would have been a 1-0 defeat. Unfortunately, France lost 1-0 against the competition future winner, Greece. Following that disappointment Zidane retired from international soccer.
Nearly a year later Zidane decided to come back to a struggling national team. At the time, France was badly managed and poorly coached by Raymond Domenech.
Few things could faze Zidane though, and Domenech’s incompetence was not one of them. Zidane help France regain confidence scoring a goal against the Ivory Coast on his first game back with “les Bleus”. And he helped France qualified for 2006 German hosted World Cup.
After a slow start in the competition, France was delivered by Patrick Viera, another All-Time great French international, when he scored against Togo in the last game of the group stage. Zidane and France faced Spain in their first march in the knock out stages. While most of the Spanish press mocked him and predicted his retirement at the end of the game, Zidane had other plans. In fact, he scored the last goal of a 3-1 victory against Spain pushing back his retirement party for an epic rematch against the then current world champion of Brazil.
On July 1st, 2006, Zidane gave his most accomplished recital. What he did to the Brazilian that night should have been illegal. He made them dance samba at the tempo of his dribbles. That night he confirmed his status of the most feared soccer player in Brazil. The Greatest of all-time, Pele, said that “Zidane was the magician in the game”. The French newspaper La Provence said that “he was more Brazilian than the Brazilians.”
In the end of this dribbling carnival, one should remember that Zidane made a beautiful assist pass on a free kick nearly 45 meters away from the goal for a great Thierry Henry volley right below Julio Cesar’s cross bar. Once again Zidane was decisive this time with the assist while also being spectacular and entertaining.
In a closed semifinal against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, France pulled through thanks to yet another critical penalty by Zizou in a 1-0 victory.
Zidane had done it. He gave himself the chance to retire from the sport he illuminated on the greatest stage of professional soccer, the FIFA World Cup final. He was 2 hours away from the best retirement party any all-time great player ever had.
In the country of Goethe, drama had awaited the end to make its entry into this epic play. France was awarded a penalty early in the game, and Zidane naturally and logically advanced to attempt to convert it. Facing the best goalkeeper of the planet, Gianluigi Buffon, Zidane made a Panenka displaying all the confidence he possessed in his skills. In front of nearly a billion people and the beat goalkeeper in the world Zidane kept his cool and composure to covert this penalty in the most audacious fashion. Unfortunately, for France, Marco Materazzi equalized on a header off a free kick, and his role this tragedy would not end there. Both teams finished the regulatory time with one goal each.
In overtime, Zidane hit a beautiful header on target, but Buffon was vigilant enough to deviate it out of the cage. Soon thereafter came the epic twist that cost him everything. Marco Materazzi insulted Zidane in Italian, a language that Zidane speaks for he played and lived in Italy for five years, and Zidane instinctively head-butted him the chest. The provocation was so hideous and the pressure so high that Zidane snapped. And in that instant he lost it all.
That was it. That second, that reaction, that uncontrolled gesture, cost him the game. The honor of his family took over as the priority instead of the team, the country and his career. A few moments after his brutal reaction, Zidane was ejected from the last professional game of his career. He left the team in complete confusion. He was the captain, one of the team most important leaders, yet he abandoned his team in most critical moments of the FIFA World Cup final instead of saving them in clutch time like he did for most of his career.
He let his teammates down. He let the team down. He let France down. After his ejection both team neutralized themselves once again forcing the final into a penalty shootout that Italy won 5-4. The image of the final, in my opinion, was not the Italian team celebrating their title or Zidane head-butting Materazzi. The image of that epic night was Zidane walking passed the World Cup trophy that was his to lift up until he lost it.
His talent was obvious from the outset in Cannes and Bordeaux. He displayed mental strength in Juventus when the old Lady’s Coach Marcello Lippi initially used at an unnatural position as defensive midfielder. Half way into his first season in Piedmont Zidane started to amaze the Serie A and the Bianconeri by his touch, technic and pitch vision. He continue to illuminate the sport in Turin and and later in Madrid scoring incredible goals and making more unseen passes and dribbles.
His control of ball will forever be legendary. In fact, Michel Platini said of Zidane “Technically, I think he is the king of what’s fundamental in the game – control and passing. I don’t think anyone can match him when it comes to controlling or receiving the ball.” 
At 6′ 1, Zidane is one of the few all-time technical geniuses that is tall in height. Whereas Pele, Zico, Garincha, Cruijff, Kopa ,Platini, Maradona, were all under 6 feet, Zidane was 6’1, yet he was as, if not more, elegant, smooth and graceful with the ball.
His efficiency in decisive moments is unmatched in world history of French soccer. He is the best French scorer in FIFA World Cup finals with 3 goals. He scored a double in 1998 on headers from corner knicks, and he scored a panenka on Buffon the best goalkeeper in 2006. Do you realize how much confidence one must have to undertake just a gesture in the World Cup final against Buffon?
I admit that it is a generational opinion. Those who were amazed by Michel Platini who led the Magic Squared of the 1980′ might argue that he was the best. Some even older fans might opine that Raymond Kopa was the best French player of all-time. I am convinced that for all he has done for “les Bleus” Zinedine Zidane is the best French player of all-time.