by Oyeneye Olutoye (@theologoolutoye)
As a player, Zinedine Zidane was adored all over the world for his genius with the ball. He was the very quiet, unassuming great who makes the most difficult things look easy.
A former colleague of Zidane at the French National team said this about ‘zizou’ after the France ‘98 World Cup, ‘’Whenever we ran out of ideas of what to do with the ball,we just pass it to Zidane. He always finds a way’’.
After retiring from active football, Zidane went back to Real Madrid and acted in different capacities for the club: From sporting director to assistant coach to coach of La Fabrica (Madrid’s academy).
Carlo Ancelotti was fired after guiding Madrid to the Copa del Rey and the elusive La Decima UCL title the previous season with Zidane as his assistant. He was replaced by Rafael Benitez, a coach who paid attention to details and was bred in the Madridismo way before cutting his teeth at Valencia with two La Liga titles.
Fast forward to six months later and Rafael Benitez was fired after a string of bad results and unconvincing performances including a 0-4 drubbing at the hands of eternal rivals Barcelona at the Bernabeu.
Benitez failed to keep the team in sync and decided to build the team around Gareth Bale at the expense of alpha male Cristiano Ronaldo which eventually cost him his job.
Enter Zinedine Zidane.
On the 4th of January, 2016, he was presented to the Madrid press as the new coach of the first team after acquiring only 18 months of coaching experience at La Fabrica.
Fans were skeptical about Zizou’s ability to manage a squad filled with a plethora of talents and egos but the chain of events that has followed Zidane’s appointment is still unbelievable in some quarters.
After almost two and a half years on the job, Zizou has won 2 UCL titles(back-to-back) 1 La Liga title,2 UEFA Super Cups,2 Club World Cup titles and 1 Spanish Super Cup. Crazy right? But that’s Zizou in the real world.
He’s not exactly a tactically astute manager as we’ve seen countless times but he’s very brave in his choice of tactics and selections. The best part is he’s a people’s person as he’s more of a motivator and manager of egos in the squad. He knows how to drive the players in unity to a particular cause even in the midst of adversity.
Often times, we’ve heard Zidane is just a lucky manager. But there’s only a little luck can do for you if you don’t put in the effort. Luck can’t win you 2 UCL titles in succession and land your club in it’s third consecutive final in Europe and fourth European final in five years.
“Thirty per cent of coaching is tactics, 70% social competence.” – Julian Nagelsmanns,
Ancelotti, Zidane’s former boss said this about his assistant: “He’s very reserved but what strikes me most about him is his desire, passion and ability to carry others along.”
As Real Madrid line up to face Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League final in Kyiv on Saturday, it could go either ways. But Zidane, if Real win the game, will go down in history as one of the select few to have won 3 UCL titles consecutively – the other being Bob Paisley.
That is not luck. That is pure genius.
Author: For The Goal
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