Zidane promises to put 'heart and soul' into Real

NEW BOSS: Zidane (left) is named Real Madrid's new coach by president Perez (right) at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on Monday, following Benitez's unceremonious sacking.


    Jan 06, 2016

    Zidane promises to put 'heart and soul' into Real


    REAL Madrid legend Zinedine Zidane has vowed to put his "heart and soul" into managing the Spanish giants after he was sensationally named as coach following Rafael Benitez's unceremonious sacking.

    The three-time world player of the year takes over at the globe's richest club despite a limited coaching CV, which includes his stewardship of Real's feeder team, Castilla.

    Real are currently third in La Liga. "We have the best club in the world, the best fans... and what I will try my best to do is ensure the team wins at the end of the season," said Zidane, 43.

    "I'm more excited now than I was when I signed as a player. I am going to put my heart and soul into this job so that everything works out well."

    The length of Zidane's contract was not announced. He becomes the 11th coach to be appointed under Madrid president Florentino Perez.

    The latter said it was a "difficult decision" to part ways with Benitez, whose seven-month reign came to an end after Sunday's 2-2 draw with Valencia.

    Benitez struggled to win over Madrid's fans and their superstars, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos, in a stint that was also marked by off-field controversies.

    Zidane inherits a team who are four points adrift of city rivals Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga and two behind nemesis Barcelona, who have a game in hand.

    However, Real also qualified with room to spare for the Champions League knockout stages, where they have been drawn against Roma in the last 16.

    All eyes will now be on whether the untested Zidane has the temperament and tactical ability to gel Madrid's Galacticos into a trophy-winning unit.

    Zidane is not known for his communication skills and his playing career ended with an infamous headbutt in the 2006 World Cup final.

    But he is respected by Madrid's players and adored by their fans for his feats on the field, highlighted by his brilliant winner in the 2002 Champions League final.

    Perez said: "As president, it is an honour to have you at my side because, I know, for you, the word impossible doesn't exist."

    Zidane failed to get Castilla promoted from the third tier of Spanish football last season but they currently lie second in the regional Segunda Division B, having lost just two of 19 games this season.

    The Frenchman was also part of Carlo Ancelotti's coaching staff when they won the Champions League and Copa del Rey in 2014.

    "The best person for the job," said David Beckham, a former teammate of Zidane at Real, on Instagram.

    "Someone with drive, passion and also doesn't accept failure on any level... taking on a position that he will relish," added the ex-England captain.

    Perez had publicly backed Benitez despite growing pressure in recent weeks, which saw him routinely jeered by his own fans, but he is believed to have finally bowed to the will of the players and supporters.