Zinedine Zidane has left Real Madrid just five days after delivering a third-straight UEFA Champions League title.
Zidane, 45, called a press conference in the Spanish capital on Thursday where he announced that he would be stepping down as head coach of the team he led to a 13th European title.
In just three campaigns in charge at Real Madrid he won the biggest prize in club soccer three times, plus added two FIFA Club World Cups, two UEFA Super Cups, one La Liga title and and the Spanish Super Cup.
Speaking in the announcement Zidane had the following to say as he sat alongside Real’s president Florentino Perez.
“It had to be done for everyone. This team has to continue winning and needs a change. After three years they [the players] need a new voice and possibly another way of working,” Zidane said. “I love this club and I love this president who has given me the chance to come as a player, and a manager, and I am eternally grateful to him. Today, for me and for everybody, we have to change and that is why I have taken this decision.”
Perez revealed that Zidane told him on Wednesday at his house that he wanted to step down and the Real president said it would be impossible for him to change Zizou’s mind.
The legendary French playmaker, who won the Champions League with Real as a player, has had three superb seasons in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu after being promoted from his role as assistant coach in Carlo Ancelotti’s coaching staff in the season where Real won the Champions League title in 2013/14.
Zidane’s side finished third in the Spanish top-flight this season as they switched their full attention to a Champions League three-peat after a poor start to the domestic campaign.
Now the focus switches as to who will take over from Zidane as Real Madrid seemed stunned by Zidane’s decision to step down.
With both Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo talking about potentially leaving Real this summer, Zidane has paved the way for both to potentially stay under a new manager, with Arsene Wenger the bookmakers favorite, plus the likes of Mauricio Pochettino and Joachim Low are also high up on the list.