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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Zinedine Zidane says 'time is right' for him to step down as Real Madrid manager

Frenchman delivered an unprecedented third straight Champions League title as manager, but has announced he is stepping down after two-and-a-half-years in charge

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane, right, stands beside president Florentino Perez, during a press conference to announce his resignation in Madrid on May 31, 2018. Pierre-Philippe Marcou / AFP
Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane, right, stands beside president Florentino Perez, during a press conference to announce his resignation in Madrid on May 31, 2018. Pierre-Philippe Marcou / AFP

Zinedine Zidane has announced his resignation as manager of Real Madrid just days after guiding the Spanish club to a third straight Uefa Champions League title.

The Frenchman announced he was stepping down after two-and-a-half years in charge of the first team, during which he won nine trophies including an unprecedented three consecutive European Cups, at an impromptu press conference held at the club's Valdebebas training ground on Thursday.

"I have taken the decision to not continue next year as Real Madrid coach. After three years I need another discourse, another method of working," he told the hastily convened press conference.

"I love this club and the president who gave me the chance to play for this club and manage the club of my dreams.

"But everything changes and that's why I've taken the decision to leave."

Madrid's 3-1 triumph over Liverpool in Kiev last Saturday extended the Spanish club's record to 13 European Cups, but has proved to be Zidane's last in charge.

"There are really beautiful moments, ending in a spectacular moment winning the third Champions League, but there are hard moments too," Zidane said. "I think it's the right time. I think the players need a change but I should thank them because at the end of the day it's them that fight out there and this is a club of very high expectations."

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Read more:

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Hat-trick of Uefa Champions League titles underlines Zinedine Zidane's credentials as a managerial great

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Zidane said he had spoken with his captain Sergio Ramos and conveyed his decision to the rest of the squad.

"I've sent a message to all the squad and I've spoken to Sergio Ramos," he said. "As always as a person and captain, we have lived a lot together, he respects my decision. He wished me luck. He is a leader, a captain and it has been a pleasure to share three more years with him."

Club president Florentino Perez, who was sat alongside Zidane, said: "This was a totally unexpected decision and today is a sad day for me and for everyone who works for this club.

"When he says he's taken a decision though, we have to accept it.

"I tried to convince him but I know how it is. He knows he has all our love and support.

"The only thing I want to say is 'hasta pronto' because I know he will return, maybe after a rest," he added.

Zidane claimed the first of his hat-trick of European triumphs two years ago when Real defeated local rivals Atletico Madrid on penalties in the final. A year later he led Real to their first European Cup and La Liga double in 59 years.

Real finished three points ahead of Barcelona as they won their first league title since 2012 before crushing Juventus 4-1 in the Champions League final to become the first side to win the competition in its current format in back-to-back seasons.

However, Madrid finished only third in La Liga, 17 points behind champions Barcelona and lost in the domestic cup’s quarter-finals to Leganes.

Among Zidane's other achievements include back-to-back Fifa Club World Cups, the latest of which was secured in Abu Dhabi last December. Madrid will be back in the capital at the December 12-22 tournament to defend their title although with a new manager at the helm.