Zinedine Yazid Zidane. Where do we start?
I would believe that most of us (a lot of us) are aware of Zinedine Zidane’s glorious playing career. His highlights as a player, to mention a few, read thus:
- 1996: Moved to Juventus from Bordeaux.
- 1998: Scored two goals in the World Cup Final to beat a very fancied Brazilian side.
- 2000: Player of the Euro Tournament, a tournament in which his French National Team won.
- 2001: Signed to Real Madrid as the most expensive footballer at the time.
- 2002: Scored ‘that’ goal that happened to be the winner against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League Final.
- 2006: Lost the World Cup Final to Italy via penalties. Was still voted as the Player of the Tournament even though he got sent off for head-butting Marco Materazzi.
- 2006: Retired as a footballer.
There is more but his career as a Coach is of particular interest here.
After taking over mid-season from a struggling Rafael Benitez’s Real Madrid, Coach Zidane has been working some magic ever since.
Winning not two (which was not done at the time he achieved it) but three consecutive Champions League titles was nothing short of extraordinary. He won a League and Champions League double in his first full season at the club in the 2016/2017 season. To explain further, Real Madrid had won the League once in nine seasons before then.
Shockingly, the football world was seemingly not in agreement that Zinedine Zidane was a magician. From making use of his team to the fullest – especially by resting Ronaldo – so as to get the maximum out of his key personnel in important games to now creating this defensive machine sans Ronaldo is nothing short of extraordinary.
After his third Champions League, he left for unclear reasons (his ‘need for change’ reason was not particularly clear) but would come back after the Julen Lopetegui signing debacle and the team struggled after losing arguably their best ever player in Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus. The loss of Ronaldo more or less culminated in their very forgettable 2018/2019 season.
However, this season -especially in the La Liga- has been nothing short of phenomenal.
Twenty-one players have scored for Real Madrid so far this season. Twenty-one!!!!
Zidane’s Real Madrid are not the best goal-scorers in the La-Liga, averaging a little over two goals per game with 68 goals in 37 games, with only Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos reaching double figures. However, it is the rearguard action that should be effusively praised.
To concede approximately 0.6 goals per game in 37 games especially in a League that seems to boast a lot of technical attacking players is out of this world. Credit has to go to Thibaut Courtois especially considering his colourless performances last season. Even 100 million signing Eden Hazard had practically no effect for Real Madrid throughout the season even with the season extension due to the pandemic.
Zinedine Zidane has coached professionally for approximately four seasons.
His trophies? 2 La Liga titles, 3 Champions League titles, 2 Club World Cups, 2 Spanish Super Cups, 2 European Super Cups.
To give a better context; Zidane has always won a trophy in all of his full seasons.
Zinedine Zidane, winner of 11 trophies in about 4 years and managing the biggest (and arguably the most difficult) European Club is still not unanimously recognized as one of the best Managers to have ever done it?
Are there still any doubts?
The doubts should have evaporated some time ago.
Get with the program.