Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has stepped down from his position, bringing to an end 3 years of almost unprecedented success at the club. Zidane took over the job in January 2016 after Rafael Benitez was sacked, and in less than 3 full seasons led the Spanish giants to a record 3 consecutive Champions League titles, 1 La Liga title and 2 Uefa Super Cups. Despite this excellent record, he told a press conference today that ”this team needs to continue winning but I think it needs a change, a different voice, another methodology”, describing the timing of his resignation as ”the right moment for all involved – for me, for the squad, for the club.”
Of course, Zidane’s association with Real Madrid began in 2001 when he arrived from Juventus for a then world record fee of 77.5 million Euros. He was the club’s first ‘Galactico’ (global stars). Within 18 months, Zizou was playing alongside Ronaldo, David Beckham, and Luis Figo. As a Real Madrid player, he was voted World Player of the Year in 2003, won a La Liga title in 2003 and the Champions League in 2002, where he scored arguably the finest goal in the history of the competition.
Somehow, his achievements as a manager may leave an even bigger legacy at the club. He won 69.8% of his games, and on average won a trophy every 97 days. He won only the club’s second La Liga title in 5 years in 2017, as well as leading the club to be the first team to retain the Champions League, and in 2018 went one step further in being the first to win 3 consecutive champions league titles. He has joined Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti as the only managers to have won the Champions League/European Cup three times.
His resignation is somewhat of a shock. It puts Real Madrid firmly in a position of transition. After their recent champions league final win against Liverpool, both Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo expressed doubt on their futures at the club. With Bale in particular unhappy with his role as a substitute under Zidane. Zidane denied that his decision to leave was linked to Ronaldo’s status at the club.
Whoever is appointed as Zidane’s replacement will have to address the situation of the two stars, as well as begin to bring fresh faces into a team with an average age of 29. Antonio Conte, Arsene Wenger and Mauricio Pochettino are all linked with the job.
Without a doubt, Zinedine Zidane leaves Real Madrid with his reputation in football enhanced tenfold. He was extremely popular with his players and has led the team to successes that are unlikely to be replicated anytime soon.
As a player and coach you decided to say goodbye at the top. Thank you for two and a half incredible years. Your legacy will never be erased, one of the most successful chapters in the history of our beloved @realmadrid pic.twitter.com/dO6bw74aA3
— Sergio Ramos (@SergioRamos) May 31, 2018
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