There has been whispers for months that Real Madrid insiders were worried that Zinedine Zidane would quit at the end of the season. But when the first choice to replace him, Mauricio Pochettino, signed a new deal at Tottenham Hotspur recently those worries seemed unfounded.
But Zidane shocked the football world on Thursday with the announcement that he is quitting as Real Madrid manager just days after becoming the first coach to win the Champions League in three consecutive seasons.
Zidane replaced Rafael Benitez in January 2016 and despite his European success has come under pressure for winning only one La Liga title during his two and a half years in charge.
He told Real president Florentino Perez he would be leaving on Wednesday before informing the players.
“I know it is a strange moment for everyone involved,” said Zidane. “But it had to be done for everybody.
“This team has to continue winning and need a change. After three years they need a new voice, a new way of saying things – possibly another way of working.
“That’s why I’ve taken that decision. I love this club, I love the president, he’s given me the chance to come as a player and a manager. I’m eternally grateful to him but today for me and for everyone we have to change.”
Perez said Zidane’s decision was completely unexpected after the club’s 13th Champions League title last weekend.
“It is a sad day for me and will be for the fans, the players and everyone at the club,” said Perez. “I wanted him to be next to me forever. But I know it is his final decision.
“I would have liked to convince him to stay on but I know what he is like.”
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