Zinedine Zidane has stepped down as Real Madrid head coach five days after celebrating three consecutive Champions League titles with victory over Liverpool in Kiev
Zidane announced his decision in Madrid on Thursday morning. Sat alongside Real president Florentino Pérez, the World Cup winner said he felt he had taken the club as far as he could: “I have taken the decision to not continue into the next season. For me and for everybody, I think the moment to change has arrived. It was not an easy decision.
“This is my decision,” he continued, having admitted he had previously planned to sign a new contract. “Maybe it’s a mistake. But I feel it’s time. If I don’t think that we can keep winning then it’s time. How can I ask more from the players? Big players need a change.
“If I was the manager here next season, it would have been tough for us to win trophies. You saw in the Copa [del Rey] this season and I can’t forget our domestic campaign that easily.”
Real finished only third in La Liga, 17 points behind champions Barcelona and lost in the domestic cup’s quarter-finals to Leganés
Pérez added: “This was a totally unexpected decision, Zidane informed me of his choice yesterday. I thank him for the work he has done.”
Zidane, who joined the club in 2001 in a then-world record fee from Juventus, said:
“I will be close to this club for the rest of my life. I want to thank the fans, who always supported me both as a coach and a player. There were tough moments during the season and although I was sometimes whistled at, I want to thank the fans.
“This is a beautiful moment as we have just won a third straight Champions League and I have now reflected and made this decision
The Frenchman, formerly coach of Real Madrid Castilla, was appointed as head coach of Real’s first team in January 2016 after the dismissal of Rafa Benítez, and guided the club to the Champions League title by beating Atlético Madrid on penalties in the final.
He won the Spanish league title in his second season, then became the first manager to win the Champions League in his first three seasons when Real defeated Juventus in the 2017 final, and Liverpool this month.
“A change is needed. I’m not going to get involved in these things,” he said when asked about a possible successor. “I’m not here to talk about the future of this team.”