Zidane to retire in 2005 as Beckham has language test

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The Independent Football

Zinedine Zidane said yesterday that he was determined to retire when his contract at Real Madrid expires in 2005.

The France midfielder, who will be 33 when he hangs up his boots, was signed by Real from Juventus for a world-record fee of £46.5m in 2001. He insists that there will be no talking him out of the decision.

Zidane, who is in China on Real's pre-season tour, said: "I have two years left to my contract with Real Madrid and until then I will play as well as possible, whatever the competition. After those two years I will retire."

His final matches for France are set to come at next summer's European Championships in Portugal, given that he has ruled himself out of the 2006 World Cup.

Zidane was a member of the France teams which won the World Cup in 1998 and European Championships in 2000, and has 82 caps for his country. He scored the winning goal in Real's European Cup final triumph over Bayer Leverkusen last year.

Meanwhile, Zidane's new team-mate, David Beckham, who joined Real last month from Manchester United for £24.5m, has admitted that his lack of Spanish has caused him problems in training.

"Everything will be easier when I have learnt the language, although I admit that it won't be easy," said Beckham, who is in Kunming, China, for Real's 18-day tour of the Far East.

Beckham acknowledged his difficulties in training, even though the sessions were led by Real's new coach, Carlos Queiroz. Queiroz was with Beckham last season at United as assistant coach.

"He does the training sessions in Spanish and I'm still finding it hard to understand what he wants," said the England captain, who praised his colleagues for "a great effort" at helping him with his initial attempts in the language.

Beckham is expected to make his Real debut on 2 August against the Dragon Team in Beijing. The Spanish side then play FC Tokyo in Tokyo on 5 August before facing China three days later in Hong Kong. Their final game is on 10 August against Thailand in Bangkok.

Real return to Spain to visit Valencia on 17 August in a preseason exhibition game before travelling to Mallorca a week later to play the first leg of the Spanish Supercup.

Beckham's first match at the Bernabeu Stadium is on 27 August in the return leg against Mallorca.