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].”
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.