After dispatching Bayern Munich in the Champions League semifinals and using a Gareth Bale-powered offensive effort to clinch his third straight Champions League title, Zinedine Zidane has stepped down at Real Madrid.
ESPN reported that Real Madrid club president Florentino Perez issued a statement to open the press conference.
It is a sad day, for me, for the club, the players, everyone at this club. It is an unexpected decision -- I loved him as a player, and coach, and wanted him always at my side. But when he takes a decision the only thing we can do is respect it. I would have liked to convince him, but I know how he is, so the only thing I can do is offer my respect and acknowledgement, and tell him he will always be welcome here at his home. This is ‘until soon’ as I have no doubt that you will be back. Although if you need a rest, we understand that.
In addition to winning three Champions League titles at Madrid, Zidane won one La Liga title, two Club World Cups, two UEFA Super Cups and one Spanish Super Cup during his tenure as manager.
Zidane offered a few interesting comments on why he made his decision as captured by The Guardian:
I made this decision because I love this club, I love (Florentino Perez) and I am grateful towards him. This is the right moment for everyone, it might seem a bit strange, but it had to be done for the good of everyone, the players, the club, and myself. This team must keep winning, and it needs a change after three years, another voice, another method of working.
On the pressure of sustaining such success:
I think it would be difficult to keep winning if I stayed.
On whether he could return at some point, Zidane was clear:
Of course, I could return, I’ll always be near to this club as it’s close to my heart. I think many won’t understand but I know it’s the right time. Time for a change. And for the players too.
No word yet on whether or not Real Madrid will reach out to old friend Jupp Heynckes to stabilize things for a bit. (Sound of Cando growling)