Football

Zidane quits as Real Madrid coach

Frenchman says Galacticos need a "different voice" after leading them to third consecutive Champions League title

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is leaving the European champions after two years in charge, he told a news conference on Thursday (May 31).

“I spoke to him (Real president Florentino Perez) to explain a little what I was thinking at the moment. First for me, the squad, the club I think it’s a bit of a weird moment but an important one that is good for everyone,” the Frenchman said.

“What I think is that this team needs to continue winning but I think it needs a change, a different voice, another methodology and that’s why I took this decision.

“I love this club and the president who gave me the chance to play for this club and manage the club of my dreams. But everything changes and that’s why I’ve taken the decision to leave.

“Like I told the president, it could be a ‘see you soon’ because Madrid has given me everything. I will still be close to the club but this decision is a clear one that might not make sense to some people but it is the moment to make a change, for the players as well.

“After doing three years, it’s the right decision. I understand, and what I can do is thank the fans not only as a coach but as a player they have always supported me.

“I have a special love for this fanbase. I thank you all for your support and there are difficult times when there are whistles but that is part of this club. I think at times the players need it, when you have a difficult time you have to front up occasionally. When the fans spur us on, that’s important.”

Zidane claimed an unprecedented third consecutive Champions League title when Real beat Liverpool 3-1 last Saturday, capping a remarkable period in his first job in senior club management.

The Frenchman took over a divided dressing room after the sacking of Rafael Benitez in January, 2016 and immediately set about uniting the squad.

He claimed the first of his hat-trick of European triumphs two years ago when Real defeated local rivals Atletico Madrid on penalties in the final. A year later, he led Real to their first European Cup and LaLiga double in 59 years.

Real finished three points ahead of Barcelona as they won their first league title since 2012 before crushing Juventus 4-1 in the Champions League final to become the first side to win the competition in its current format in back-to-back seasons.

Zidane won nine major honours as Real coach and the 45-year-old’s crowning glory came last Saturday as he joined an elite group of managers including Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti by lifting the European Cup for the third time as coach.

“There are really beautiful moments, ending in a spectacular moment winning the third Champions League, but there are hard moments too. I think it’s the right time. I think the players need a change but I should thank them because at the end of the day it’s them that fight out there and this is a club of very high expectations,” Zidane added.

“We always want more and more, I couldn’t ask for more from these players but now is the time for them to have a different voice in the changing room.”  – REUTERS

Zinedine ZidaneREAL MADRID