Sat, Jul 07, 2007 - Page 18 News List

Zizou coaches Indonesian president

PRAISEWORTHY President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called Zinedine Zidane ``a great man'' after the Frenchman presented him with signed shirts and several soccer balls

AFP AND AP , JAKARTA

French soccer star Zinedine Zidane, right, shakes hands with a young Indonesian soccer player yesterday in Jakarta. Zidane met with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and hundreds of lucky guests yesterday at the government palace.

PHOTO: AP

French soccer hero Zinedine Zidane gave a spot of coaching to Indonesia's president yesterday as he began a three-day visit to the world's fourth most populous nation to promote his sport to children.

Clad in a batik shirt, jeans and runners, "Zizou" helped Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono along with some of Indonesia's young players practise a few passes as they met in the gardens of the presidential palace.

"I'm sure I'm going to have great pleasure and a lot of fun here in Indonesia as this is my first visit," the 35-year-old told reporters on the eve of the Asian Cup tournament which Indonesia is co-hosting.

"People talked a lot about the kindness of Indonesian people and I can already see [it] in the eyes of the people since I arrived at the airport," he said.

Turning to Yudhoyono he said, "I have a present for you Mr President," before handing him two signed shirts and several soccer balls.

The president said he hoped Zidane would "inspire" Indonesia's young soccer players.

"You are a great man," Yudhoyono told Zidane after juggling a ball with him. "You are very famous here in Indonesia, you have a lot of fans who admire you."

Many palace workers brought their children along to see Zidane, creating a party atmosphere at the normally stuffy palace.

A motorcade for the French star is reportedly planned through the normally traffic-snarled streets of Jakarta early tomorrow morning, when he will also meet the city's governor.

The soccer player is also expected to hold a coaching clinic for children during his visit in his role as an ambassador for children's programs for French company Groupe Danone.

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