More satisfying to win Champions League as Real Madrid coach than player: Zinedine Zidane

Mumbai: French football legend and Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane said that winning the Uefa Champions League as a coach was a more satisfying experience than winning the coveted competition as a player, on Friday.

Zidane, who has won the Champions League as a Real Madrid player in 2002, succeeded Rafa Benitez as Real Madrid coach in January and delivered the trophy in just five months as first team coach after Los Blancos beat city rivals Atletico Madrid in the final in Milan on penalties.

 More satisfying to win Champions League as Real Madrid coach than player: Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane holds a press conference in India. PTI

"Two years ago Carlo Ancelotti (former Real Madrid coach) told me that it's wonderful to win the Champions League as a player, but as a coach it is a huge satisfaction," said Zidane.

Two years after that, today I am feeling exactly the way as discussed with Ancelotti then. It was wonderful to win as a player, but to win it as the coach of the entire team is something amazing," the three time Fifa World Player of the Year said in an interaction with members of the press in Mumbai.

Zidane is visiting India for the first time as the wellness ambassador for Kanakia Paris, an upcoming residential project in Mumbai.

Zidane served as assistant coach coach for Real Madrid when Carlo Ancelotti was in-charge of the first team. Under the Italian manager Real Madrid won a historic and much-awaited tenth Champions League crown, La Decima, in 2014. After managing Real to an 11th European title, Zidane joined Ancelotti, Miguel Munoz, Giovanni Trapattoni, Johan Cryuff, Frank Rijkaard and Pep Guardiola as the only men to have won the Champions League as a player and a manager.

However, Zidane knows that these are still early days as a manager for him and there is a long road ahead.

"I'm really lucky to be a part of the best club in the world and just want to put all my passion. Even though I won the Champions League after only five months as coach, I know there is a lot of work to be done to become the coach I want to be. This is just the beginning," the Frenchman said.

Zidane also understands the pressure associated with the job as Real Madrid is one of the best clubs in the world and the expectations are very high. Ancelotti was sacked by the club after two seasons, even after he delivered the Champions League in his first season at charge. Failure to win any major trophies in 2014-15 resulted in Anceotti being replaced by Benitez, who was also sacked by the club midway through the 2015-16 season.

"Yes, I am totally conscious about the situation, it can come to an end. So I want to enjoy everyday. I knows it can happen. My target is to improve myself and the team day after day," he said.

Zidane, the 15th Real Madrid manager since 2003, succeeded Benitez after the Spaniard's tumultuous seven months at the club, where reportedly his relations with many players soured. Benitez fell out of favor at the club even after club president Florentino Perez had expressed faith in the man and had said the manager must be given time.

The mood in the camp improved after Zidane, relatively new to the managerial world, came in and saw through the campaign to come a close second in the La Liga and lift the Champions League."

"I brought my experience not of a coach, as I'm a young coach, but my experience as a player first of all; knowing the field, knowing all the players of the team. What I brought maybe was the capacity for all the team members to work, and work, and work. That was the most important target for me, and to improve the relationship between all the players. You just organise the idea and the player will follow the direction," Zidane said.

Zidane, considered by many as one of the greatest footballers of all time, won the 1998 World Cup and 2000 Euro for France, mesmerising the world with his elegant style of play. His winner in the 2002 Champions League final against Bayer Leverkusen, an incredible left-footed volley into the top corner of the net, is still considered as one of the greatest goals in the competition. Zidane himslef called that strike perfect.

I tried to score the same way again later, even during shooting an advertisement. But it never happened again. Never. I tried, trained but never happened. It (the goal) was perfect the day it happened, but it never happened again," he said, sharing a chuckle with the members of the press.

Zidane, himself of Alegerian descent, touched upon racism in the interaction and said the problem exists and needs to be fought.

"Racism is a minority and we have to fight it and of course it exists everywhere. I haven't faced it myself. I belong to a mixed origin and cannot imagine life without all these different mix of origins living together," Zidane said.

Zidane also addressed the infamous headbutt incident in the 2006 World Cup final, where he headbutted Italy's Marco Materazzi and was consequently shown the red card. France went on to lose the the game on penalties as the Italians lifted their fourth World Cup.

"On the field you should not reply (if you're provocated) if you want to control yourself, that is my recommendation, to not reply and concentrate on the game. I know provocation can be always there. I'm not proud of what happened in 2006, and I won't advise anybody to behave in the same manner, but it happened. It's a part of life to sometimes make some mistake, but that's how you grow. you have to learn from your mistakes, and that is what I'm doing," he said.

On being asked whether he could go on to coach France, Zidane said he was very happy as Real Madrid manager and wants to continue the same way.

"They (France) already have Didier Deschamps. No actually, as it is now I'm very happy with Real Madrid so I cannot project myself in a different scheme. Let's see in the future, but at the moment no."

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Updated Date: Jun 11, 2016 13:21:13 IST