Football: Zidane resigns as Real Madrid coach, confirm Spanish giants

The Frenchman's reported departure comes at the end of a disappointing campaign for the 13-time European champions.
The Frenchman's reported departure comes at the end of a disappointing campaign for the 13-time European champions.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MADRID (AFP) - Zinedine Zidane has resigned as Real Madrid manager with immediate effect, the Spanish club confirmed on Thursday (May 27), just days after they were beaten to the La Liga title by Atletico Madrid.

“It is now time to respect his decision and show our appreciation for his professionalism, dedication and passion all these years,” they said in a statement on their website.

“Zidane is one of Real Madrid’s great myths and his legend beyond his role as coach and player at our club.”

The Frenchman's departure comes at the end of a disappointing campaign for the 13-time European champions, who also lost to Chelsea in the Champions League semi-finals as they failed to win a trophy for the first time in 11 seasons.

Earlier, Italian football journalist Fabrizio Romano broke what he called "exclusive" news in a tweet which was picked up by Spanish sports outlets, including Madrid sports dailies Marca and AS, and the radio station Cadena Ser.

An official announcement of his departure, said Romano, would be made "in the next hours/days".

Only 10 days ago Zidane, who has a contract until 2022, denied media speculation that he had already told his players that he would be leaving at the end of the season.

"How am I going to tell my players that I am going now? It's a lie," the 48-year-old said after a 1-0 win at Athletic Bilbao.

"I focus on this season. There is a game left and we are going to give everything. I only care what happens in this finale."

But, perhaps tellingly, he added: "The rest, we will see at the end of the season."

If confirmed, it marks the end of Zidane's second spell in charge of the Spanish giants.

The 1998 World Cup winner first took the helm in January 2016 and guided Real to the 2017 La Liga title and an unprecedented hat-trick of Champions League titles before abruptly quitting on May 31, 2018.

He returned in 2019, winning a second La Liga crown in 2020 and the Spanish Super Cup.

Zidane could take another break from football. He had been linked with taking charge of the French national team and Juventus, where he spent five years as a player.

However, Didier Deschamps is likely to remain France coach until the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, barring a disastrous performance at the European Championship that kicks off next month.

And Reuters have quoted the Italian media as saying Juventus have sacked coach Andrea Pirlo and replaced him with former manager Massimiliano Allegri.