MADRID: Zinedine Zidane resigned as Real Madrid coach because he felt the Spanish club no longer had any confidence in him, he wrote in an open letter yesterday. “I’m leaving because I feel the club no longer has the faith in me I need, and doesn’t offer me the support to build something in the medium or long term,” the Frenchman wrote in the letter published in the sports daily AS.
“I am a born winner and I was here to win trophies, but beyond this there are human beings, emotions, life and I have the feeling that these things have not been valued, that it has not been understood that this is also how the dynamic of a great club is maintained,” he said. “But everything I built on a daily basis, what I brought to the relationship with the players…has been forgotten.”
“I’m leaving, but I’m not jumping ship and I’m not tired of coaching,” he added. Real had a disappointing season, finishing second in La Liga behind neighbors Atletico Madrid and losing to eventual winners Chelsea in the Champions League semi-finals.
It was the first time that the 13-time European champions had failed to win a trophy in 11 seasons. It is the second time that Zidane has resigned as Real Madrid coach. The 1998 World Cup winner first took the helm in January 2016 and guided Real an unprecedented hat-trick of Champions League titles as well as a La Liga title in 2017, before abruptly quitting on May 31, 2018. Less than a year later he returned after Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari were sacked in quick succession.
In his letter, Zidane said he left the club in 2018 because it needed “a different voice to keep itself at the very top” but this time “things are different”. “I want what we have achieved together to be respected. I would have liked in recent months my relationship with the club and with the president (Florentino Perez) to have been a little different from that of other coaches,” Zidane said.
“I wasn’t asking for privileges, of course not, but a little more memory,” added Zidane. “It hurt me a great deal when I would read in the press, after a loss, that they were going to fire me if I did not win the next match.
“It hurt me and the entire team because these messages which were intentionally leaked to the media created negative interferences with the squad, they created doubts and misunderstandings.” Zidane’s contract with Real was set to expire in 2022 but he had repeatedly refused to confirm he would still be at the club next season.
‘Always be grateful’
He has a history of making surprise announcements: as a player, he initially announced his retirement from international football in 2004 before coming back for the 2006 World Cup, after which he retired for good following his red card for headbutting Italy’s Marco Materazzi as France lost the final. “Spending 20 years in Madrid has been the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to me in life and I know that I owe it exclusively to Florentino Perez who bet on me in 2001,” Zidane said in the letter.
“I say it from the heart, I will always be grateful to the ‘presi’ for it. Always,” he added. Zidane also had a message to Real fans, saying he wanted them to know that “we gave 100 percent”. Zidane’s resignation roiled an already turbulent coaching picture at the continent’s elite clubs.
One of Zidane’s former clubs, Juventus, has replaced Andrea Pirlo with Massimiliano Allegri. Antonio Conte, a former team-mate of Zidane’s at Juventus, quit Inter Milan after leading them to the Serie A title.
Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich have replaced Hansi Flick with Julian Nagelsmann. There is doubt about the future of Ronald Koeman who became coach at Barcelona last August, while Mauricio Pochettino, who took over at Paris Saint-Germain in January, is reportedly being courted by former employer Tottenham Hotspur and has also been linked with Madrid. — AFP