UK: Five days after celebrating three consecutive Champions League titles with victory over Liverpool in Kiev, Zinedine Zidane has surprised the footballing world by stepping down as Real Madrid head coach.
Zidane, 45, made the announcement about his decision in Madrid on Thursday morning. Sharing the dais with Real president Florentino Perez, the World Cup winner said he thinks that he had taken the club as far as he could.
The Frenchman is walking away just days after guiding the Spanish giants to an unprecedented third Champions League victory in a row.
“I have decided not to continue into the next season. I think the moment to change has arrived for me and for everybody,” he said adding it was not an easy decision.
“This is my decision,” he said. “Maybe it’s a mistake. But I feel it’s time. If I don’t think that we can keep winning then it’s time. How can I ask more from the players? Big players need a change.”
Formerly the coach of Real Madrid Castilla, Zidane was appointed as head coach of the Real first team in January 2016 after the dismissal of Rafa Benítez, and guided the club to the Champions League title by beating Atlético Madrid on penalties in the final.
He won the Spanish league title in his second season, then became the first manager to win the Champions League in his first three seasons when Real defeated Juventus in 2017 final, and Liverpool this month.
“A change is needed. I’m not going to get involved in these things,” he said when asked about a possible successor. “I’m not here to talk about the future of this team.”
“I will be close to this club for the rest of my life. I want to thank the fans, who always supported me both as a coach and a player. There were tough moments during the season and although I was sometimes whistled at, I want to thank the fans,” he added.