Zidane Explains Real Exit

Zinedine Zidane 

Zinedine Zidane has criticised Real Madrid and club president Florentino Perez in an open letter, blaming a lack of trust and “messages leaked to the media” for his decision to quit as head coach.


Zidane resigned last week after two years in the job in his second spell in charge, following his failure to land a trophy during the 2020-21 season.


He had not spoken publicly about his reasons, with no farewell news conference — until a surprise move on Monday, when he wrote an open letter published in the Madrid-based sports newspaper Diario AS.


“I’m leaving, but I’m not abandoning ship and I’m not tired of coaching,” Zidane said. “In May 2018 I left because after two-and-a-half years, with so many victories and so many trophies, I felt that the team needed something new to stay on top. Today, things are different. I’m leaving because I feel the club is no longer giving me the trust I need, it isn’t offering me the support to build something medium-to-long-term.


“I know the demands at a club like Madrid, I know that when you don’t win you have to go. But a very important thing has been forgotten here … I’m a born winner and I was here to win trophies, but beyond that are human beings, emotions, life, and I have the feeling that these things haven’t been valued.”


Zidane signed for Real Madrid as a player in 2001 and spent five years at the club before announcing his retirement. He later returned as an adviser to Florentino Perez, became assistant coach to Carlo Ancelotti, and managed reserve team Castilla, before taking over the first team in January 2016.


He won three consecutive Champions League titles from 2016 to 2018, resigned, and then returned 10 months later.


His second spell was more challenging, coming under pressure during 2019-20 — before bouncing back to win the league for the second time as coach — and then again after defeats in La Liga and Europe in October and December 2020.


“I want what we’ve done together to be respected,” he continued. “I would have liked my relationship with the club and the president in recent months to have been a little different from that of other coaches. I wasn’t asking for privileges, of course not, but rather a bit more memory. Today, the life of a coach on the bench of a great club is two seasons, not much more. For it to last longer, human relationships are essential.


“That’s why it hurt me a lot when I read in the press, after a defeat, that they were going to sack me if I didn’t win the next game. It hurt me and the whole team because these messages, intentionally leaked to the media, created negative interference with the staff, they created doubts and misunderstandings.”