Zinedine Zidane steps down as Real Madrid manager

MADRID – 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 Perez, 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,” said Zidane. “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.”

The now former Real Madrid head coach became the first manager in history to win the competition three times in a row when they beat Liverpool 3-1 in Saturday’s final.

The World Cup-winning footballer told a news conference he felt it was the right time to leave the club, having never been knocked out of Europe’s top competition during three years in charge.

UEFA Champions League 2018: Real Madrid beats Liverpool 3-1

In his first job in senior club management, Zidane won nine major honours, with the 45-year-old’s crowning glory coming in Kiev when he joined an elite group of managers to win the European Cup three times as coach. The others are Bob Paisley (Liverpool) and Carlo Ancelotti (AC Milan and Real Madrid).

After retiring from a glittering football career with Real, Juventus and Bordeaux in 2006, Zidane took over the Real Madrid B team in 2014, before replacing Rafael Benitez as first team coach in January 2016.

He claimed the first of his hat-trick of European triumphs two years ago when Real defeated local rivals Atletico Madrid on penalties in the final. A year later he led Real to their first European Cup and La Liga double in 59 years.

Real finished three points ahead of Barcelona as they won their first league title since 2012 before crushing Juventus 4-1 in the Champions League final to become the first side to win the competition in its current format in back-to-back seasons.