Real Madrid won’t have Zinedine Zidane as their manager from next season. The French legend made the shock announcement on Thursday, and needless to say, the football world was caught by surprise.
But what goes without saying is that he couldn’t have chosen a better time to walk away from the club, having on his laurel-sheet the unprecedented haul of three consecutive Champions League titles.
He stated: “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.
“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.”
Accompanying him in the press conference, Madrid President Florentino Pérez had an interesting look on his face, and that alone ought to have been an apt reaction to how unexpected the whole ordeal was.
Perez’ face expressions says it all pic.twitter.com/UEJZzBbTEQ
— BACK TO BACK TO BACK (@ModricEsque) May 31, 2018
But tributes from his player were the first to flow in, with Kroos leading the charge and captain Ramos leaving an appreciation tweet:
As a player and coach you decided to say goodbye at the top. Thank you for two and a half incredible years. Your legacy will never be erased, one of the most successful chapters in the history of our beloved @realmadrid pic.twitter.com/dO6bw74aA3
— Sergio Ramos (@SergioRamos) May 31, 2018
Incidentally, Zidane had words to share with Ramos prior itself, and revealed how the Spaniard reacted: “As always as a person and captain, we have lived a lot together, he respects my decision. He wished me luck. He is a leader, a captain and it has been a pleasure to share three more years with him.”
Casemiro, Lucas Vázquez, and Marcelo also had words to add:
No tengo palabras para agradecerte todo lo que has hecho por este vestuario, por el Real Madrid y por el madridismo. Ha sido un orgullo y un privilegio tener como entrenador a mi ídolo. Eterno Zizou. pic.twitter.com/wjK45SMQz7
— Casemiro (@Casemiro) May 31, 2018
Ronaldo’s tribute read: “I’m just proud of being your player. Mister, thanks for so much.”
While Ronaldo made news earlier, it appears that the Portuguese star hinting at the departure wasn’t a reason behind Zidane leaving. The gaffer was asked about the potential Ronaldo effect during the conference, and he responded: “No, not at all.”
The tweets poured in plenty to address the decision, most of them positive, lauding the Frenchman for his brilliance. What lies next for Zidane and Real Madrid?