Zidane rules out replacing Benitez

MADRID • French football legend and Real Madrid youth-team coach Zinedine Zidane has distanced himself from talk that he is set to take over from the under-fire Rafael Benitez as the Spanish football giants' first-team manager.

Despite being publicly backed by club president Florentino Perez, rumours persist of unrest in the dressing room and that one more defeat in the coming weeks could cost Benitez his job.

Zidane is short on experience, having only ever taken charge of Real's feeder team Castilla, but would be a popular choice among the fans given his hero status after scoring the sensational winning goal in the 2002 Champions League final.

"All I am thinking about and doing is for Castilla," he said on Saturday. "I have to say to you all that I support Benitez, what he is doing and I think he is the person that has to be with the first team. The shame is, and it is always the same at this club, that when you lose a game, anything can happen."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2015, with the headline 'Zidane rules out replacing Benitez'. Print Edition | Subscribe