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Zinedine Zidane completes grooming and secures Real Madrid’s top job
Zinedine Zidane might never have managed a top division team, but he is unquestionably accustomed to handling the pressure of doubters harrowing his every movement 24/7. In April 2005, seventeen cameras were specially-placed inside the Santiago Bernabeu ahead of Real Madrid’s meeting with Valencia. For an unprecedented biopic documentary, all of them were trained on Zidane.
Admittedly, it takes a lot more than a reputation and natural leadership to manage Real Madrid. Zidane has been under the spotlight as Rafa Benitez’ inevitable successor all season, including Madrid’s last meeting with Valencia, a hard-fought 2-2 draw. The result wasn’t enough to save Rafa Benitez from the sack he has been facing for weeks, and as many expected, Madrid president Florentino Perez announced Zidane as the Spaniard’s replacement.
The Frenchman has been fast-tracked to Madrid’s top job just five years after his initial hesitation to enter the management business following his retirement in 2006. Jose Mourinho brought Zidane on as a “special advisor” to the Blaugrana’s first team in November 2010 and a year later, the forty-three-year-old was promoted to the title of Sporting Director after convincing Raphael Varane to join from Lens. When Carlo Ancelotti took over in 2013, Zidane continued his grooming, being appointed assistant coach of the first team, and then head coach of Madrid Castilla (their second team) in the summer of 2014.
Although the success of his tenure has been mixed and the lack of connection between Zidane and highly-touted teenager Martin Odegaard was a major cause for concern, Madrid are hedging their bets that the jump up to managing the first team will prove a natural fit for the former Galactico.
Compared to his extensive list of predecessors, Zidane is almost completely inexperienced. He’s the youngest Madrid manager since Juan Ramon Lopez Caro in 2005, yet much like Zidane the player, the ex-Juventus man’s appointment to manager has a slightly romantic twist. Zidane is the clear fan’s favorite and has unanimous backing, if only until his first match in charge against Deportivo de La Coruna next weekend.
His achievements as a player stand alone, but moreover, it was his multidimensional excellence that captivated audiences. He was ruggedly handsome without appearing to fuss over his appearance and he never tried to hide his balding head at a young age. Just as well, the look suited him.
He was slightly shy in interviews (itself enhancing his aura) yet as a player he was the natural and undisputed leader of France’s World Cup winning generation. Zidane is far from gregarious, with an infamously hot temper on the pitch, but his confidence on the pitch reflect what many Madrid fans expect from their stars. If only he can make management look as easy as was his control of the ball.
Homepage photo credit: Walterlan Papetti, via Wikipedia Commons