Karim Ziani’s first opportunity in football came in 1995 when he joined the junior ranks of Racing de Paris at the age of 13. In 2001, he caught the eye of Alain Perrin, the Troyes coach at the time, who convinced his board of directors to bring Ziani to the club. Having played 64 times without opening his scoring account, Ziani began to lose his grip on a starting berth following the Champagne region outfit’s relegation to Ligue 2. However, the Sevres-born player secured a loan move to Lorient ahead of the 2004/05 campaign, and very soon became an automatic choice at his new side. Signed on a permanent basis, he repaid the club’s faith by being voted player of the season in Ligue 2 for the 2005/06 campaign and being instrumental in his team’s promotion to France’s top tier. This achievement would represent a real turning point in his career.
Indeed, his performances had caught the eye of Sochaux, whom he joined in summer 2006 and where he met up again with former mentor Perrin. Settling quickly, Ziani’s eight-goal tally for Les Lionceaux helped them qualify for the UEFA Cup after finishing the campaign in seventh spot in the league. The club also beat Marseille on penalties in the final of the Coupe de France, thus landing their first silverware after 70 barren years. A host of transfer offers soon materialised, with the gifted midfielder eventually signing for L’OM ahead of the 2007/08 season. A regular starter from the outset, he was picking up valuable UEFA Champions League experience when, three months into his Marseille career, the talented creator picked up an injury which triggered a lengthy spell on the sidelines. Back to form and fitness the following season, Ziani fired four goals in 34 appearances and was on the move again in summer 2009 – this time to Bundesliga outfit Wolfsburg.
On the international scene, Ziani’s debut for Algeria’s senior side came in a friendly against Belgium in 2003. He grasped his opportunity with both hands and by the time of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations 2004 was a first choice in the Algeria line-up. Once there, despite Les Fennecs’ quarter-final exit at the hands of Morocco, Ziani was chosen as player of the tournament in his position. Though diminutive in stature, Ziani more than makes up for his lack of physicality with his outstanding technique and never-say-die spirit. What is more, his four-goal contribution had a vital role in his country’s successful qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.