Zidane will skipper France

Zinedine Zidane-Pic. AFP

Real Madrid midfielder Zinedine Zidane will skipper France in the Euro 2004 qualifiers against Malta and Israel. National coach Jacques Santini announced that Zidane would replace Chelsea's Marcel Desailly who is injured. "I am confident he will be able to meet his responsibilities both on and off the field," Santini said of Zidane.

Zidane, the most expensive footballer in the world, was chosen ahead of Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira. It is not clear whether Zidane's appointment is a permanent one, with Santini keen to bring the former skipper back into the squad. "Desailly will come back when fit. He remains a pillar of the French team," Santini said.