On May 31, just five days after leading his team to a third consecutive Champions League title, Zinedine Zidane shocked the footballing world by resigning as manager of Real Madrid. Just over three months on, and the Frenchman has given a candid interview to Uefa, in which he speaks about winning the Champions League, Benzema, Ronaldo, and keeping the calm in the dressing room.
He also had some words of warning for his successor Julen Lopetegui: “When you’re coaching Real Madrid, you have to win everything.”
Here are his top five quotes from the interview.
On three Champions League titles: “All three titles were fantastic. They were all special for different reasons. The first stands out because it was my first as a coach; the second was both symbolic and intense – with us facing Juventus and turning in an exceptional second-half performance. And the third topped off my three seasons as coach of Real Madrid.”
On Benzema: “Karim was important for the balance of the side in terms of how I wanted the team to attack. He helped to implement our possession game by playing his team-mates in. He makes himself available and is a real team player.”
On Ronaldo and Ramos: “They are both players with a lot of energy and influence within the squad. Sergio Ramos is a natural leader and a big presence in the dressing room, and Cristiano Ronaldo is a leader on the pitch who inspires his team-mates. They complement each other well.”
On a poor home record in the Champions League: “Very often, we managed to achieve very good performances away from home, which might explain a slight loss of concentration during the subsequent return legs. At the same time, I never had the impression that the team were panicking. When you work with high-quality players, they know how to manage those periods of games when you’re not playing well, and they get things back on track very quickly. My job was to keep people calm!”
On the demands of LaLiga and Champions League: “For me, there is no difference. I have always prepared for all matches with the same level of application. In any event, when you’re coaching Real Madrid, you have to win everything, while maintaining a certain standard of play – that’s my philosophy.”