Zinedine Zidane, who helped France win the World Cup in 1998, warned against the potential victory of Marine Le Pen and the Front National in the country’s presidential election second round.
However, the Real Madrid manager stopped short of endorsing Mrs Le Pen’s rival Emmanuel Macron, who is running as an independent candiate backed by the mainstream.
In a football press conference, Zidane called on his country “to do everything they can to avoid this” referring to the hardline leader’s rise in polls.
Marine Le Pen will go head-to-head with Mr Macron in the final round of voting on 7 May.
When asked if he agreed with any of Mrs Le Pen’s policies, Zidane said he was “far from all these ideas”.
It is not the first time the man known as ‘Zizou’ in his home country has intervened in presidential affairs.
In 2002, he also called on France to reject Mrs Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who was in charge of the Front National at the time.
Mr Le Pen had shocked the French establishment by making it into the second round of the presidential election.
Zidane said: ““It is the same as in 2002. We have to avoid it the National Front as much as we can.
“Extremes are never good.”
Zidane, who was born in Marseille to Algerian parents, has been outspoken against Mrs Le Pen’s nationalist ideas and border policies.
However, Mrs Le Pen quickly fired back against Zidane, launching a scathing analysis of his motivations.
She suggested that his intervention was based on financial concerns regarding personal wealth.
The political leader said: “With what he earns, I’m not surprised by his comments.
“I suppose Zinedine Zidane has quite a bit of financial might so he must be interested in Macron winning the general election to save the wealth he has accrued thanks to his talent.”
The comments come after the Front National’s Jean-Francois Jalkh stepped down as party leader after just three days in the role.
Mr Jalkh was named interim leader of the far-right party after Marine Le Pen…