Zinedine Zidane: 'I know I'm done'

Zinedine Zidane has gone out as a coach (at least for now) a lot different than he did as a player.

Red carded in overtime of the 2006 World Cup final France lost to Italy on penalty kicks, Zizou surprised the soccer world on Thursday when he announced he was stepping down as Real Madrid head coach.

All he did in his first three years as a first-team head coach was lead Real Madrid to three UEFA Champions League titles in three years.

Only two other teams besides Real Madrid -- which won the first five competitions -- have won three titles in a row in what was once known as the European Cup: Ajax (1971-73) and Bayern Munich (1974-76).

No other coach has won the competition three times in a row.

For those reasons, Zidane's announcement was a surprise, but it was not a shock.



Real Madrid had a rough season outside the Champions League, finishing 17 points behind Barcelona in third place in La Liga and exiting the Copa del Rey in the quarterfinals to Leganes, and there was lots of talk that Zidane would be fired if Real Madrid didn't win the Champions League.

Zidane said the high point of his tenure was winning La Liga in 2017. The low moment; that defeat at home to lowly Leganes this season.

Aging team. Real Madrid won the 2018 UEFA Champions League over Liverpool with a veteran team. Zidane started the same 11 players who started in the 2017 final, and six of them are 30 years old or older. He admitted he did not see the team continuing to win.

"In a season, anything can happen," he said, "but if I don’t envision things clearly it is better to step down rather than stay on and not do well."

Tired coach. The work of a coach of a top-flight team always in the Champions League is substantial. Like Pep Guardiola when he left Barcelona in 2012, Zidane hinted about having nothing left to give his players.

"This club is all about the day to day," he said, "and here today, I know I’m done. I am not tired of training, but I think it is the right moment after three years.”

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