Zinedine Zidane dropped a bombshell on Thursday, stepping down as manager of Real Madrid, the club he played for till 2006. Regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, Zidane made the announcement when it was least expected of him, less than a week after winning Champions League for a record third time.
In a week of shock announcements, Zinedine followed South Africa cricketer AB de Villiers with staggering decisions which came out of the blue. The former attacking midfielder is probably Madrid’s most decorated managers of all times, winning nine trophies in two and a half years – three Champions League titles, two FIFA Super Cups, Spanish Super Cup, La Liga title and two FIFA World Cup titles. Real beat Liverpool 3-1 in the Champions League final in Kiev on Saturday, making Zidane the first manager in history to win three back-to-back European Cup titles.
The 45-year-old former French International decided to step down at the top saying that it was time for a change for himself as well as the club and admitted that it was the pressure of the job that forced him take the decision. “I have taken the decision to not continue next year as Real Madrid coach. This club deserves to continue to win and needs a change. After three years the club needs another discourse, another method of working. I don’t see myself continuing to win this year and I am a winner, I don’t like to lose. I have thought a lot about this decision and I can’t go back on it,” he said.
This is not the first time that Zidane has caused an uproar during or after his last match. As a Real Madrid player, as an international player and now as a manager, the French star has a significant style of marking his end.
Exactly 12 years ago, Zidane brought a controversial end to his international career, when he appeared in the final of 2006 World Cup against Italy. Zidane scored the opener with a penalty kick before Italian Marco Materazzi equalised with a header from a corner.
Zidane, who has played for Cannes, Bordeaux and Juventus, earned a red card for his full-blooded headbutt against Marco Materazzi after a heated exchange of words. Experts still claim that the red card cost Les Blues the World Cup title as Italy went on to win the final 5-3 on penalties.
If that was not enough to prove how Zizou enjoys making a statement in his final match, his last match for Real Madrid does. He might have had a World Cup final to forget, but his farewell match for the Spanish giants in May, 2006 was an emotional ride as they hosted Villareal in the season’s last home match with Barcelona already claiming the title.
While Santiago Bernabeu gave a touching reception to Zizou with around 80,000 fans holding up a banner saying ‘Thanks for the magic,’ the Frenchman responded by making his last match count with a goal in 3-3 draw. Even in Madrid’s last league match (away) to Sevilla, he scored to bring to an end a glorious club career that unfortunately ended in a 3-4 defeat.
Fast forward 12-years later, Zidane drops another bomb, when fans expected it least. After going down in history books for being the only manager to ever win three successive UCL titles, he decides to step down at the top – just as he did as a player.