Zinedine Zidane left Real Madrid last week, a year before the end of his contract at the Santiago Bernabeu. One of the most successful coaches in the club’s history, his departure had been rumoured for months, but there was no press conference or farewell explaining his decision. Now, as carried by Marca, however, there has been.
Madrid are now looking for a replacement, with the three frontrunners emerging as Antonio Conte, Mauricio Pochettino and Raul. None have a single Champions League title to their name, different to Zidane, who lifted the trophy Madrid covet above all three times during his first stint as coach at the club; the Frenchman casts quite the shadow.
Zidane has penned an open letter explaining his departure and the reasons for it. He’s not jaded, he said, nor is he done with coaching. He didn’t feel supported by the club and grew tired of the line of questioning taken by the media against him, and that was the key factor in his decision. It’s a frank and open letter from a man that garners nothing but respect, and it’s certainly not a good look for Madrid as a club.
For twenty years, from the first day I set foot in the city of Madrid and put on the white shirt, you’ve given me your love. I’ve always felt that there was something very special between us. I’ve had the great honour of being a player and a coach of the most important club in history, but above all I’m just another Real Madrid player. For this, I wanted to write you this letter to say goodbye to you and explain my decision to leave.
When, in March 2019, I agreed to return to coach Madrid after a break of about eight months, it was because President Florentino Perez asked me to, but also because you told me every day. When I met you on the street I felt the support and the desire to be with the team again, because I share the values of Madridismo, this club that belongs to its members, to its fans, to the whole world. I’ve tried to transmit these values in everything I’ve done, I’ve tried to be an example. Spending twenty years in Madrid has been the most beautiful thing that’s happened to me in my life and I know that I owe that exclusively to Florentino Perez, who bet on me in 2001, who fought for me, to enable me to come when there was certain people against the idea. I say it from my heart, I’ll always be grateful to the president for that, forever.
Now I’ve decided to leave and I want to explain the reasons well. I’m going, but I’m not abandoning ship and I’m not tired of coaching. In May 2018 I left because after two-and-a-half years with so many victories and so many trophies I felt the team needed a new voice to stay on top. Today, things are different. I’m leaving because I feel that the club no longer gives me the confidence I need, it doesn’t offer me the support I need to build something in the medium or long term. I know football and I know the demands of a club like Madrid, I know that when you don’t win you have to go. But here a very important thing has been forgotten; everything I’ve built on a daily basis has been forgotten, what I’ve contributed to the players, to the 150 people who work with and around the team. I’m a born winner and I came here to conquer trophies, but beyond this are human beings, emotions and life, and I feel that these things haven’t been valued, it’s not been appreciated that this has also maintained the dynamics of this great club. Even, in a way, I’ve been reproached.
I also want to use this letter to send a message to the journalists. I’ve done hundreds of press conferences and unfortunately we’ve spoken very little about football, and I know that you also love football, that this sport unites us. However, without pretending to criticise or give you lessons, I would have liked that the questions were not always directed toward controversy, that we would have talked more often about football and above all about the players, who are and always will be the most important part of the game. Let’s not forget football, let’s take care of football.
Dear Madridistas, I’ll always be one of you.