KEIR RADNEDGE in MILAN: Zinedine Zidane became the seventh man to win the Champions Cup as both player and coach as Real Madrid edged neighbours Atletico 5-3 on penalties after a 1-1 extra-time draw in the final in the Stadio Meazza.
Zidane was famously a winner with Real in 2002 when he struck the winning goal with thrilling volley but this time he was restricted to prowling the touchline as he encouraged his tiring team to grit their teeth all the way through to the shootout.
Real took an early lead through captain Sergio Ramos but conceded a late equaliser to Yannick Carrasco which sent the final to extra time before Zidane’s team clinched their record-extending 11th triumph.
After the match Zidane revealed that he had dreamed of one day winning the cup as a coach and credited that realisation to his positive personal philosophy.
Zidane, who had been assistant coach to Carlo Ancelotti when Real beat Atletico in the 2014 final in Lisbon, said: “Physically we suffered quite a bit. All the players had muscle aches and cramps but that’s normal and also mentally it’s a lot of pressure but you have to fight and work hard to achieve something so big is a souerce of a lot of pride for the players, the staff and supporters.”
President Florentino Perez promoted Zidane from a role a coach to nursery club Castilla in midseason in place of Rafa Benitez and Zidane was possibly the least surprised.
He said: “I had dreamed about it and I’m very positive. The president gave me the opportunity to coach this great club because I have a very positive attitude. This final could easily have gone the other way.
“Both teams have to be congratulated for their hard work. Maybe we had that extra bit. We had a couple more chances for a second goal but didn’t manage it.
“What I have also brought is that I really believe in hard work. We had quality but I think that work is possibly more important than quality and all of us have worked in the right way.”
Cristiano Ronaldo’s failure to make an impact on the match raised speculation that the competition’s 16-goal top scorer had still be carrying an ankle injury. But Zidane denied that.
He said: “Ronaldo wasn’t injured. He was out there just like all the others who brought us our victory. He was OK, he fought it out and ran a lot like everyone else. He’s always very positive in helping his team mates.”
Asked what they had discussed immediately before the shootout Zidane said: “We spoke only about the position he would occupy to take his penalty.”
Ronaldo elected to take the fifth penalty which proved decisive after Atletico’s Juanfran had missed the previous kick. Thus Zidane had now won the cup as player, assistant coach and now head coach.
Zidane said: “This club has made me the biggest in everything and it was, is and always will be a very great club and to form part of this project is a reason for great pride.
“Carlo Ancelotti said to me: ‘If you have a chance of winning the Champions League as head coach you’ll see what it feels like. It’s nothing like winning as a player. It’s very special so I’m very, very, very happy to have won as a player, assistant coach and head coach.”
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