CARDIFF: Zinedine Zidane, first coach to win the Champions League two years in a row and one of the most inexperienced to win it at all, ascribed Real Madrid’s latest success to hard work and attitude writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Zidane emulated the achievement of 1950s and 1960s hero Miguel Munoz in having become a European champion with Madrid as both player and then coach.
He took over in the middle of the 2015-16 season, won the European and world crowns last year and has now steered the record 12-times continental champions to their first Spanish league and Champions double since 1958.
In an understatement after the 4-1 victory over Juventus he said: “It’s been a very happy year. We had early problems but in the second half we were clearly superior. We kept the ball better, played higher up and physically we won the game as well as with our determination.”
Zidane said he was so delighted “I feel like dancing.”
He repeatedly praised the work ethic emanating from his dressing room of big egos, saying: “Everyone has felt important this year and among themselves in the dressing room the players all get along really well so the connection among them is fantastic.
“When you manage to achieve things it gets easier but there’s a lot of hard work behind all of that. I have the luck to be in a great club with a great side and we have worked hard all season long, thinking we could achieve things. That’s the key to our success.
“The first half was balanced because Juventus came out very positively. We didn’t have enough possession and we lost the ball too much but at half-time I told the players to keep doing what we were doing but put a bit more attitude in our play – play more in their half and play more with the ball.
“We know how to play football and the way we played the second half was quite spectacular. When we play first-touch what happens is what happened — and to score four goals against Juventus is not easy.
“No-one had achieved this Champions League double before so it’s a truly historical day for all Real Madrid fans and the players and myself, our big family, but next year it will be even more difficult.”
Zidane was satisfied that he had made the correct decision in starting with Isco, who was outstanding, rather than fit-again Gareth Bale in his own home city.
He said: “What was important for Gareth was that he was with us here and he played for a little while [as a late substitute] so I’m happy for that.”
Zidane refused to comment on speculation about a possible move back to the Premier League for Bale with Manchester United. He added: “Now the only thing we’re going to do is enjoy what we’ve achieved and have a rest and only then we’ll see about next season.”
# # # # # # # #