Late in May, Zinedine Zidane stunned the world when it was announced that he has decided to leave the club without prior notice. Though he did not have the best of the 2020-2021 season, the board of Real Madrid had not officially decided to sack him before he decided to leave.
In most parts of the just concluded season, there were strong speculations that he might leave the club at the end of the 2020-2021 season. Despite the strong speculation, he denied that he was planning to leave the club for the second time in his managerial career.
Recall that Real Madrid gave Zinedine Zidane his first opportunity to coach a professional football club in 2016. He was appointed as the manager of the club less than two years after he became the coach of the club’s youth team.
The French tactician became an instant hit as the manager of Real Madrid. He became so successful that he led the club to win three successive UEFA Champions League titles in his first era.
Not only that, he won one La Liga, one Supercopa de España, two UEFA Super Cups, and two FIFA Club World Cups before he decided to leave the club at the end of the 2017-2018 season.
A year after, Real Madrid convinced him to return to the club and he did. This time around, things were not as smooth as they used to be. He struggled to win a La Liga title and a Supercopa de España during the 2019-2020 season.
Things got worst for Zinedine Zidane during the 2020-2021 season as he ended the season with no title. He only managed to finish second on the league table behind Atletico Madrid.
In the lengthy open letter in which he explained why he left the club at the end of the 2020-2021 season, Zidane revealed that he decided to leave the club because he felt the club’s board didn’t trust his coaching ability anymore.
In the letter which was first published by AS on Monday, May 31, the 48-year-old French tactician insisted that he didn’t leave the club because he was jumping overboard. He also insisted that he didn’t leave because he was tired of coaching.
Zinedine Zidane admitted how honorable it has been for him that he had been a player and a coach of Real Madrid in his lifetime. Hence, he decided to write to the club’s fans to tell them goodbye.
Below is the open letter Zinedine Zidane wrote to Real Madrid fans explaining why he resigned as the club’s coach
Dear Real Madrid fans,
For more than 20 years, from the first day I arrived in Madrid and wore the white shirt, you’ve shown me your love. I’ve always felt that there was something special between us. I’ve had the enormous honour of being a player and the coach of the greatest club ever, but above all I’m just another Madrid fan. For all these reasons I wanted to write this letter, to say goodbye to you and explain my decision to leave the coaching job.
When, in March 2019, I accepted the offer to return to Real Madrid after a break of eight months it was, of course, because President Florentino Pérez asked me, but also because all of you asked me every day to do so. When I met any of you in the street I felt your support and the desire to see me with the team again. Because I share the values of Real Madrid; this club belongs to its members, its fans and the entire world. I’ve tried to follow these values in everything I have done, and I’ve tried to be an example. Being at Madrid for 20 years is the most beautiful thing that’s happened to me in my life and I know I owe that entirely to the fact Florentino Pérez backed me in 2001, he fought to get me, to bring me here when some people were against it. I say it from the heart when I say that I will always be grateful to the ‘presi’ for that. Always.
I have now decided to leave and I want to properly explain the reasons. I’m going, but I’m not jumping overboard, nor am I tired of coaching. In May 2018 I left because after two and a half years, with so many victories and so many trophies, I felt the team needed a new approach to stay at the very highest level. Right now, things are different. I’m leaving because I feel the club no longer has the faith in me I need, nor the support to build something in the medium or long term. I understand football and I know the demands of a club like Real Madrid. I know when you don’t win, you have to leave. But with this a very important thing has been forgotten, everything I built day-to-day has been forgotten, what I brought to my relationships with the players, with the 150 people who work with and around the team. I’m a natural-born winner and I was here to win trophies, but even more important than this are the people, their feelings, life itself and I have the sensation these things have not been taken into account, that there has been a failure to understand that these things also keep the dynamics of a great club going. To some extent I have even been rebuked for it.
I want there to be respect for what we have achieved together. I would have liked my relationship with the club and the president over the past few months to have been a little different to that of other coaches. I wasn’t asking for privileges, of course not, just a little more recollection. These days the life of a coach in the dugout at a big club is two seasons, little more. For it to last longer the human relationships are essential, they are more important than money, more important than fame, more important than everything. They need to be nurtured. That’s why it hurt me so much when I read in the press, after a defeat, that I would be sacked if I didn’t win the next game. It hurt me and the whole team because these deliberately leaked messages to the media negatively influenced the squad, they created doubts and misunderstandings. Luckily I had these amazing lads who were with me to the death. When things turned ugly they saved me with magnificent victories. Because they believed in me and knew I believed in them. Of course I’m not the best coach in the world, but I’m able to give everyone, whether it’s a player, a member of the coaching staff or any employee, the strength and confidence they need in their job. I know perfectly well what a team needs. Over these 20 years at Madrid I’ve learnt that you, the fans, want to win, of course, but above all you want us to give our all: the coach, the staff, the employees and of course the players. And I can assure you we’ve given 100% of ourselves to this club.
I’d like to take this opportunity to send a message to the journalists. I’ve given hundreds of press conferences and unfortunately we have spoken very little of football, though I know that you love football, this sport that brings us together. However, and without any desire to criticise or lecture, I would have liked the questions not to have always been about controversy, that we might have talked more often about the game and above all the players, who are and always will be the most important thing in this sport. Let’s not forget about football, let’s care for it.
Dear Madrid fans, I will always be one of you.