Zebina training with Toulouse in 2012
|Full name||Jonathan Zebina|
|Date of birth||19 July 1978|
|Place of birth||Paris, France|
|Height||1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|Playing position||Right-back, Centre-back|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Jonathan Zebina (born 19 July 1978) is a French retired footballer. Having started his career as a striker, he played right-back for much of his career before being increasingly used as a centre-back. An athletic defender, with good man-marking skills, he was however criticised at times throughout his career for being error-prone.
He also owns a large collection of contemporary art. and owns an art gallery in Milan.
Zebina began his career with Cannes in the French Championnat National in 1996 making his professional debut in Ligue 1 in a home game against Metz which ended 0–0. The 1996–97 season saw him make 6 league appearances. The following year he continued to develop and he made 21 league appearances as Cannes were relegated to Ligue 2.
Zebina was then signed by Cagliari, whose president had spotted him during a match against Marseille while scouting Cyril Domoraud. He was given a chance at right-back after injuries to two other defenders and soon made the position his own, in the process establishing a reputation as one of the most promising defenders in Europe. Zebina made 48 appearances for the Sardinian club between 1998 and 2000, at which point Cagliari were relegated to Serie B.
In 2000, Zebina moved to Roma in a co-ownership deal for 9.5 billion Italian lire, linking up with countryman and fellow full-back Vincent Candela. In his first season with the Rome club, he played 22 games and won the Scudetto, followed by the Italian Supercup at the beginning of the next season. Manager Fabio Capello saw his skill and he soon became Roma's first-choice right-back. Roma bought him outright in July 2001. Between 2001 and 2004, he made 94 appearances for Roma in both domestic and European competitions. While at Roma, he was involved in a minor car crash, but escaped with cuts and bruises.
Towards the end of his spell in the Italian capital, bigger clubs in Italy began to take notice of him and, after nearly signing with Milan, Zebina elected to join Juventus on a free transfer, where he was reunited with departing Roma manager Capello. Zebina revealed that he had rejected moves to Chelsea, Liverpool and Milan. In his first season, Zebina made 24 appearances in Serie A and six in the Champions League, a total of 30 appearances in all competition.
Primary a backup player, Zebina occasionally played in the right-back position. The 2005–06 season was not his finest as a professional due to an argument with the Juventus management over his request for a pay rise and rumours linking him with English club Tottenham Hotspur. His move to Tottenham collapsed after Capello persuaded him to stay. He was sent off in Juventus' Champions League quarter-final loss to Arsenal, along with Mauro Camoranesi. Juventus claimed the Scudetto to compensate for the European disappointment, but were stripped of their title after a match-fixing scandal that saw the club relegated to Serie B.
Despite coming under fire several times for his perceived inconsistency, Zebina stayed with Juventus following their relegation. His first-team opportunities increased after the sale of Gianluca Zambrotta to Barcelona, but he was still criticised by Juventus fans. In spite of this, in the 2007 winter transfer window he turned down prospective moves to Marseille or Real Madrid; following Juventus' Serie B title success, he signed a new four-year deal that would keep him at the club until 2011.
In the 2007–08 season, Zebina faced competition from Zdeněk Grygera for the right-back position. In September 2007 he was banned for four games and ordered to pay a €15,000 fine after slapping a flight attendant, after being sent off for two bookable offenses in the match against Cagliari. He ultimately only played in 16 league games because of disagreements with coach Claudio Ranieri and an injury suffered in January.
In the 2009–10 season, Zebina wore number 15 instead of number 5, following former captain Fabio Cannavaro's return to the club. He lost his starting place to Martín Cáceres that season, despite Cáceres also being seen as inconsistent. After Cáceres' injury, Zebina returned to the starting XI, but Juventus also faced a landslide slip in their results, starting with a shock exit from the 2009–10 UEFA Europa League by losing to Fulham, a match in which Zebina was sent off. He apologised for gesturing to Juventus supporters but claimed he was driven to act inappropriately by their behaviour. He remained in the starting XI ahead of Cáceres despite the latter recovering from injury. That season Juventus finished 7th and numbers of players were sold or their contracts were not renewed, including Cannavaro. On 29 March 2010, he was hit by a fan as he was about to board the team's bus ahead of Juventu's match against Atalanta Bergamo. He stated: "Surely it is racism. […] It is a bad thing for the image of Italian football that does not deserve this. The Federation has to do something […]".
At the end of season Juventus decided not to buy Cáceres outright, but signed Marco Motta from Udinese on loan as new right-back. He was included in Juventus's 25-man squad list A for 2010–11 UEFA Europa League play-offs round (he was suspended in the qualifying round due to his red card at the end of last campaign) He also did not attend the pre-season camp as he had an international duty which delayed his vacation. Motta quickly became the starting right-back for Juventus in the first four matches of the season in the Europa League, and Zebina was not called up for the first Serie A game of the new season. On the last day of transfer window, his contract was mutually terminated after Juventus strengthened their options in defence by signing Arsenal defender Armand Traoré on loan for the rest of the season, with a view to a permanent move. On the same day Juventus also released Mauro Camoranesi, and David Trezeguet a few days before.
On the same day he was released, he signed a two-year contract with Serie A newcomer Brescia. After signing for the club, Zebina suffered an injury on his knee and had an operation on it which kept him out for about 5 weeks. After recovering from his knee injury, Zebina finally made debut for Brescia against Udinese in a 1–0 loss. Unfortunately, Zebina had a frustrating campaign that ended with the club being relegated. Zebina went on to make 28 appearance for Brescia.
On 8 July 2011 he mutually terminated his contract.
Stade Brestois 29
After being released by Brescia, Zebina returned to France on 4 August 2011 after eleven years in Italy, joining Ligue 1 newcomers Brest on a one-year contract with an option on the following season. After joining Brest, he revealed that he had desired a move to England in the summer but that a lack of interest shown in his services forced him to turn his attentions elsewhere. He was previously linked with two other club in his country, Ligue 1 rival's Saint-Étienne and Nice. On 20 August 2011, the opening day of Ligue 1, he made his debut for Brest in a 1–1 draw against Lyon. After Brest finished the season in 15th place, the club announced on 22 May 2012 that he would not extend his contract, which was due to expire at the end of June.
After one season in Brittany, he joined Toulouse as a replacement for the outgoing Daniel Congré. He was given the number 11 jersey, and became the club captain. In a season hampered by injuries, Zebina was at fault for a few goals in the few matches he played that season. His experience, however, was still seen as important, and he remained a key member of the squad. On 30 March 2012, he scored an own-goal, against Ajaccio, to give the opposition the lead. Eventually, Toulouse would win 3–2 after a comeback fight.
Despite being a regular during his time at Roma and Juventus, he has earned only one cap for France; on 9 February 2005 in a 1–1 draw against Sweden. Zebina remained in Jacques Santini's plans throughout his tenure. However, after Santini departed the national side, Zebina was never called up for France again after falling out of favour with new coach Raymond Domenech.
He was born to a father named Denis and a mother named Martine. He has a brother and sister, named Alexis and Julia respectively.
|France national team|
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