(WFI) Zinedine Zidane remains quiet, low-key and soft-spoken despite having the opportunity to accomplish something no other coach has ever done before.
If Real Madrid wins the Champions League final on Saturday against Liverpool, Zidane will simply surpass the greatest managers in history with a third consecutive Champions League title.
Only two coaches in the history of the tournament, Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti, have won the European Cup three times, but none in successive years.
At this point, Zidane can simply claim to hav equalled the record of legendary managers such as Arrigo Sacchi, Alex Ferguson, Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho in winning the trophy twice.
Despite Zidane’s historic bid to enter a class of his own with an unprecedented success, many skeptics continue to suspect that rather than a good tactician and a good architect of the game, the former midfielder is the fortunate recipient of an expensive squad.
Zidane has compensated for his lack of experience and strategy with charm, a disarming smile and invaluable knowledge of what it is like to play at the highest level, leading the team to eight trophies which could become nine in Kiev.
Zidane recently explained his approach to coaching.
“I was a player for 18 years, I dealt with lots of coaches, lots of very good players, lots of egos. I know dressing rooms very well and I know exactly what goes through the head of a footballer,” the Real Madrid manager told reporters on Wednesday on the eve to traveling to Kiev, site of the final.
“That’s very important for me but it’s not the only thing. There’s a lot of work and a philosophy behind this. I’m not the best coach, I’m not the best tactically, but I have something else, passion and hope. That’s worth a lot more,” he added.
Some of his former colleagues on the pitch have recently come out to defend Zizou’s record. One of them is Steve McManaman.
“He doesn’t get enough credit. He took over a struggling, dysfunctional team,” said McManaman, who was a part of Zidane’s glorious Galactico era at the turn of the century.
To McManaman, Zidane has come a long way from his beginnings.
“The players were not happy when he was appointed. He has gone on to win two Champions Leagues. If Pep Guardiola had done this people would be singing from rooftops,” explained the former midfielder who started his career at Liverpool.
“He does not pat himself on the back enough. He is similar as a manager as a player. He is not outspoken. He gives nothing away. Not extravagant in interviews, but always graceful.”
For now Zidane does not want to talk about records or legacy. He is simply taking his full 24-player roster to Kiev where Real Madrid, among other things, want to erase the memory of 1981 when the Blancos lost to Liverpool 1-0 in the only Champions League final, then the European Cup, they have played against each other.
The French coach, true to his own tradition, has decided to travel with his entire squad to the Ukrainian stadium hoping to take back to Spain a third consecutive European crown for Real Madrid and the 13th Champions League trophy overall in the history of the club. No other club comes even close to that record as the second most successful club is Milan with seven titles.
Zidane has been credited with scoring the most beautiful goal in the history of the tournament with that impossible left-foot volley against Bayer Leverkusen in the 2002 final.
Now he could be also revered simply for being statistically the best coach in the history of the Champions league. Not bad for someone who only three years ago was training youth players in Spain’s third division.
Homepage photo: Wikimedia
By INSIDER Javier Monne
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