Football

ZIDANE PROMISES A TROPHY FOR REAL

You can’t compare me with Guardiola. I won’t compare myself, I never did that as a player and won’t do it as a coach. I need to be a coach my way. I have to be Zidane.

— Zidane (right), on comparisons with Pep Guardiola

Zinedine Zidane has vowed to win a trophy this season after replacing Rafael Benitez as Real Madrid on Monday.

The 43-year-old World Cup winner and former Real and France superstar was unveiled by club president Florentino Perez, after the Spanish giants confirmed that Benitez had been relieved of his duties just 25 games into his reign.

Speaking at a brief press conference, Zidane said: "I want to thank the club and the president for giving me the opportunity to train this club.

"It's the best club in the world with the best fan base in the world.

"I want to do my very best to ensure that this club at the end of the season will have a trophy."

"I will be working hard with all the players and I think it will go well," added the Frenchman, who played for the club between 2001 and 2006.

"I am looking forward to working with everybody tomorrow. Tomorrow is when the work starts.

"Thank you to everyone. It is an important day for me. It's an emotional day, even more emotional than the day I signed as a player for the club. I will put all the heart I have into this job for the club. Thank you very much."

Zidane, who had been working as manager of the club's B team Castilla, inherits a side sitting in third place in the La Liga table after last Sunday's 2-2 draw at Valencia.

However, Benitez's tenure drew to a premature close after months of speculation that he would not come anywhere near seeing out the three-year contract he signed in June last year, amid dissatisfaction among fans unhappy with both the departure of predecessor Carlo Ancelotti and his style of play, and rumours that he was at odds with key figures within the dressing room.

Perez paid tribute to the 55-year-old former Liverpool boss as "an absolute professional and a wonderful person", before handing responsibility for reviving the club's fortunes to Zidane.

BEST MAN

He said: "Zinedine Zidane is a man who knows better than anyone what it means to stand at the front and lead Real Madrid.

"It is a difficult squad to lead but he throughout his career and throughout his life also has always been able to face up to huge challenges.

"Zinedine Zidane, this is your club, this is your stadium and you have all our support.

"Zidane, you are from this moment the trainer, the manager of Real Madrid. The word 'impossible' does not exist for you, Zinedine Zidane."

Thousands of Real fans turned out to cheer Zidane as he started his first day as coach of the Spanish giants yesterday.

While commentators expressed doubts about the Frenchman's experience, 5,000 fans packed the Alfredo di Stefano stadium at Real's training ground to see Zidane take his first session with Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and other superstars.

"Zizou! Zizou!" the fans chanted as the World Cup winner walked out onto the pitch with his players wearing a grey tracksuit and fluorescent boots.

Zidane gathered the players around him and then kicked a ball to start a training exercise, drawing shouts from the crowds.

All eyes will now be on whether Zidane has the temperament and tactical ability to gel Real's Galacticos into a trophy-winning unit.

Key players such as Karim Benzema and James Rodriguez often showed their disgust when substituted by Benitez.

Off-field distractions also took their toll, with Benzema facing blackmail charges over a sex-tape of France teammate Mathieu Valbuena, and Rodriguez accused of speeding at up to 200kph last week.

Spanish media said he has his work cut out because of his lack of experience.

"The Frenchman is a football legend and a great figure of Madrid," wrote Marca, Spain's most read sports daily.

"But his coaching experience is inversely proportional to his excellent footballer's experience - limited... and controversial." - Wire Services.


To win everything. that’s our goal. We have two trophies we can win and we’re going to go for it.

— Zidane, on his targets

Zinedine ZidaneREAL MADRID