Zinedine Zidane recalled the situation when he became Real Madrid Coach, spoken of what Los Blancos mean to him and previewed the Champions League.
Zidane was appointed in place of Rafa Benitez in January and in an interview with UEFA’s official website, pointed to that initial period as crucial to the latter season success his side enjoyed.
“When I took over it was a new thing for me, but we had to win games and be ready right away. We worked hard right away for three weeks to prepare, as we were out of the [Copa del Rey]. That work was very important, especially physically,” Zidane confirmed.
“And then we had to win our games. That's what we've been doing, and now we've reached the end of the season and still have the most important game of the campaign to go.
“Atletico Madrid are special opponents; they've beaten the two other best teams in Europe, so it will be a very difficult game. They will defend really well as they always do, but I don't think you can say that Atletico are a team that only defends.
They play good football too, and can make it difficult for their opponents. We know that, we'll prepare for it and we'll try to play our game so that we don't have any regrets at the end.”
Zidane had a storied playing career at Santiago Bernabeu, winning the Champions League in 2002, and explained how special his time on the pitch was – highlighted by a famous goal in the final.
“Playing for Real Madrid was the best thing that ever happened to me. I dreamed of playing for Real Madrid – I wanted to wear that famous white shirt. And it all came true thanks to the President who brought me here as a player. And now I'm lucky enough to coach the greatest club in the world, so I'm a happy man,” he continued.
“The only title I hadn't won was the Champions League, so to win it with Real Madrid was the icing on the cake. I also won it when I was Carlo Ancelotti's assistant, along with Paul Clement [in 2014], and now I have another opportunity to contest the final, this time as head Coach. I cherish every single moment I've had here, and I tell myself that I've been very, very lucky to have had such a great career at this great club.
“That volley – and especially from a rubbish cross from Roberto Carlos! You only score a volley like that once in your career. I have tried to do it again, but it was something that just happened that night, and it was during the Champions League final. There's no explanation for it, you just have to be happy and enjoy scoring a goal like that.”