Zinedine Zidane leaves Real Madrid after third Champions League title


Zinedine Zidane has shocked the football world by resigning as Real Madrid coach just days after winning a third consecutive Champions League with the La Liga giants.
At a news conference scheduled at short notice on Thursday, the 45-year-old confirmed he would step down following Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Liverpool in Kiev saw him become the first coach ever to lift the European Cup three years in a row.
Zidane said: “I have made the decision to not continue next year as manager of Real Madrid. This is a strange moment but a very important moment. And I had to do this for everyone. This team must continue winning and it needs a change that will be good for everyone.
“Madrid has given everything to me and I will be close to this club for the rest of my life. But the team needs another methodology and that is why I have made this decision. For me and for everyone, today, a change is needed and that is why I have reached this decision. I am grateful to the fans.
“There are difficult moments when you can wonder whether you are the right person still. I do not forget the hard times, as well as the good times, and that makes you reflect. And this is the right moment. The players need a change, I want to thank them too, as in the end they are the ones who fight on the pitch. This is a demanding club, not easy for them, with this great history. We always want more from the players, and a moment comes when I cannot ask them for more. They need another voice, to return to winning again.
“I am doing this for the good of this team, for this club. It would have been difficult for me to win again next year. There have been good moments, but also difficult times. I do not forget that. And at this club you must know this. I do not want to start a season and have a bad time, I want to end with Real Madrid when everything is going well. I did it as a player, and now again as a coach. This the right moment to end things well.
“There are many reasons for this. I am not tired of coaching, after three years. But it is the moment to [leave] here…. I am not going to coach another team [right away].”
Club president Florentino Perez said as he opened the news conference: “It is a sad day, for me, for the club, the players, everyone at this club. It is an unexpected decision — I loved him as a player, and coach, and wanted him always at my side. But when he takes a decision the only thing we can do is respect it.
“I would have liked to convince him, but I know how he is, so the only thing I can do is offer my respect and acknowledgement, and tell him he will always be welcome here at his home.
“This is ‘until soon’ as I have no doubt that you will be back. Although if you need a rest, we understand that.”
Zidane, 45, stepped up from his former position of Castilla youth team coach in January 2016, and has finished each season since by lifting the Champions League trophy, while also clinching the 2016-17 La Liga title along with two Club World Cups, two UEFA Super Cups and one Spanish Super Cup.
That was questioned midway through the 2017-18 campaign, as Madrid lost December’s Clasico 3-0 at home as Barcelona eased to the La Liga title, and Los Blancos were also embarrassingly knocked out of the Copa del Rey at the Bernabeu by Leganes.
Progress in the Champions League past major rivals Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich and then Saturday’s win in Kiev — which extended Madrid’s record of European Cup triumphs to 13 — had appeared to ensure the Frenchman would continue in the job, and Perez had always backed his manager in public.
Cracks in his relationship with Perez had appeared during a midseason disagreement over whether to sign young Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, while Zidane himself had always spoken about how he knew no Madrid coach was guaranteed the job long-term and that the summer was likely to bring some changes at the club.
Attention will immediately turn to Zidane’s successor, with two of the previous leading candidates in Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino and Germany national team coach Joachim Low both having recently signed new extensions to their current deals.
Former Madrid star and France international Zidane was one of the greatest players of his generation, winning trophies including the 1998 World Cup, Euro 2000 and 2002 Champions League, as well as the 1998 Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year prize in 1998, 2000 and 2003.
Zidane’s retirement as a Real Madrid player in 2006 also came as a surprise, when the then 33-year-old decided to hang up his boots in the aftermath of that year’s World Cup final despite having another year on his club contract

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