Zinedine Zidane has returned to Real Madrid as coach just 284 days after he shocked the club by resigning.
Ever since the Frenchman stepped down at the end of last season, coinciding with the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus, the club has been in crisis. Julen Lopetegui was sacked in October after four months at the helm and on Monday Santiago Solari was fired.
Rumours began circulating on Sunday that Jose Mourinho was in line to replace Solari but then on Monday afternoon another name began to be mentioned - Zidane.
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At 8pm local time last night Zidane was officially named Real Madrid’s coach until June 2022, and this morning he will back at the training ground to try and salvage something from the wreckage of the season. “I want to put this club back where it belongs,” said Zidane. “It has been difficult from the outside looking in. I have been living here in Madrid, doing my things. But I have recharged my batteries. I’m ready to coach this great club again.”
Best in the business
Having been eliminated by Ajax from the Champions League last week, Real are third in la Liga, 13 points adrift of Barcelona, and Zidane’s first task is try and rebuild the morale of a demoralised squad.
According to Spanish newspaper, Marca, Real president Florentino Perez has been chasing Zidane for a while and he “was willing to do whatever it took to get him back on side”. Initially Zidane rejected Perez’s overtures but after the Ajax debacle last week his resolve began to weaken.
Zidane won nine trophies during his three seasons in charge of the first-team squad - including a hat-trick of Champions League titles.
“The best manager in the world has rejoined the club,” said Perez. ”Our destinies are once again united.”
Reaction to Zidane’s return
Gary Lineker: “Zinedine Zidane is back as coach of Real Madrid. Brilliant move and good to see him return. He did alright last time.”
Daily Telegraph: “Tottenham Hotspur will be delighted by Real’s decision to turn back to Zidane, having feared their manager Mauricio Pochettino could head for the Bernabeu.”
The Guardian: “Zinedine Zidane responds to the call to save Real Madrid from darkness.”
Club president Florentino Perez: “Zidane is an 18-year love story. It’s a very big day. Everyone feels enchanted.”
Zinedine Zidane: “Things will change, in every way, we have to change things for the years to come. Now the important thing is that I am back, and there is time to talk and see what needs to be done.”
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