Less than a week after leading Real Madrid to their third consecutive Champions League title in a 3-1 win over Liverpool on Saturday, manager Zinedine Zidane announced today in a shocking press conference that he was stepping down from the club.
The 45-year-old Frenchman, who also won a Champions League trophy with Real Madrid as a player, said he was leaving “for the good of this team.”
“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,” he said, per ESPN. “What I think is that this team needs to continue winning but I think it needs a change, a different voice, another methodology. And that’s why I took this decision.”
He insisted his stepping down has nothing to do with rumors about Cristiano Ronaldo leaving the club. “I’ve had a good relationship with the president and we’ve spoken about signing players, but that’s not why I’m leaving,” he said.
Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez said the decision was “unexpected” but that he knew he couldn’t change Zidane’s mind.
“I would have liked to convince him, but I know how he is, so the only thing I can do is offer my respect and acknowledgement, and tell him he will always be welcome here at his home,” he said.
Real Madrid must now find a new manager, their fourth in five years. Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has been linked to Real Madrid in the past, but he just signed a five-year extension with Tottenham. Arsène Wenger’s name has also been floated in early “reports” about possible replacements.