Ilkay Gundogan: Why Barcelona Star Was Nicknamed 'Zidane' in Training

Ilkay Gundogan: Why Barcelona Star Was Nicknamed 'Zidane' in Training

Isaac Darko
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
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  • Ilkay Gundogan shared the reason behind his "Zidane" nickname
  • The German international signed for Barcelona last summer
  • He is the first Man City captain to lift the Champions League

Ilkay Gundogan has disclosed the reason behind earning the nickname "Zidane" during his days at Manchester City.

The 32-year-old made a noteworthy move to Barcelona on a free transfer from Manchester City in the summer, concluding seven memorable years at the Etihad.

The classy German midfielder, who served as City's captain, secured the Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League trophies in a historic Treble triumph.

Zinedine Zidane, Illkay Gundogan
Ilkay Gundogan has revealed why he earned the nickname “Zidane” in Manchester City training. Photos by Martin Rose/Ricardo Larreina
Source: Getty Images

Gundogan will rightfully be remembered as a modern-day legend in Manchester.

Those who played alongside Gundogan will fondly remember the former Dortmund star, who earned a playful training ground moniker from teammates who seldom saw him break a sweat.

Gundogan nicknamed 'Zidane' in City training

Gundogan has told The Players’ Tribune via GOAL:

“I am usually a pretty reserved person. It takes a while to get me to open up. But the great thing about this team is that we all just felt comfortable making jokes with one another no matter how much pressure we were under.
"We’d be playing 5-v-2 in the box in training, and my favourite thing was to joke around with Ruben Dias. I guess because I am usually such a simple player, the guys thought it was really funny to call me ‘Zidane’ when I showed a bit of technique.
"Whenever I had a good session, Ruben would go around calling me ‘Zidane’. And I’d say, ‘No, no, today I was Pirlo. Tomorrow, I’ll be back to Zizou’.”

Gundogan feeling abandoned by Barcelona

Meanwhile, Ilkay Gundogan and his wife Sara Arfaoui were reportedly left feeling abandoned by Barcelona after joining the club from Manchester City as a free agent this summer, per Sport Bible.

The Germany captain and his wife are feeling abandoned by the Catalan club as they were expecting the reigning La Liga champions to help with things like housing and transport since they arrived.

Gundogan allegedly complained to the team, stating that there was room for improvement. According to the article, Barcelona apologised to the 33-year-old, but no significant action was taken.

Ilkay Gundogan slams Barcelona teammates

Earlier, Sports Brief reported that Ilkay Gundogan expressed his profound dissatisfaction with his teammates after Barcelona's defeat to Real Madrid.

The Catalan giants suffered a 2-1 loss at the hands of their intense rivals in the season's first Clásico on Saturday afternoon.

Before the match at Catalunya, the Spanish champions had maintained an unbeaten record in La Liga but found themselves one point behind Carlo Ancelotti's side in the league standings.

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Isaac Darko
Isaac Darko is a La Liga, Ligue 1 and Bundesliga editor at Sports Brief with a Degree in Journalism and Communications from Ghana Institute of Journalism (2010)