Algerian Mustapha Zitouni dies, aged 85

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Former Algeria centre-back Mustapha Zitouni died, aged 85, on Sunday following a long illness.

Zitouni, born in French Algeria, played for France four times but gave up the chance to play at the 1958 World Cup.

Instead he opted to help form a team for Algeria's National Liberation Front (FLN), who sought independence.

The FLN side played 80 matches in worldwide tours before Algerian independence in 1962 and Zitouni later won seven caps for Algeria.

Algiers-born Zitouni was France's first choice centre-back ahead of the 1958 finals in Sweden and was described by former Real Madrid great Alfredo di Stefano as one of the best defenders in Europe.

But he gave up his career with Monaco and France to join fellow Algerians, also playing in the French leagues, to form the underground football team of the (FLN), seeking independence from the French.

The mass defection just months before the World Cup, which also included another regular France international Rachid Mekloufi, caused a major storm in France but did much to publicise the Algerian cause.

Zitouni also played and coached RC Kouba before coaching in Libya and returning to France where he worked for Algerian airlines in Nice.

Among his four caps for France was an appearance at Wembley against England in late 1957.

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