Just days ago Zinedine Zidane was basking in the glory of becoming the first coach in history to win three consecutive Champions League titles with Real Madrid and staking a claim as one of the great coaches in history.
On Thursday, he said he was quitting the Spanish giants in an announcement that seemed to have even taken the club’s president Florentino Perez by surprise.
It appears the 45-year-old Frenchman has decided that it won’t ever get better than this for him at the famously demanding 13-time European champions.
“I don’t see myself continuing to win this year and I am a winner, I don’t like to lose,” said Zidane, who was under contract with Real until 2020.
The Frenchman specialises in dramatic departures — in the 2006 World Cup final in Berlin, his final appearance as a player, was cut short when he was sent off for headbutting the Italian defender Marco Materazzi. Zidane said he had insulted his family.
The 3-1 victory over Liverpool in Kiev on Saturday was the pinnacle of a coaching career after his reign as a player with Real Madrid which peaked when he scored the winning goal in the 2002 Champions League final against Bayer Leverkusen in Glasgow.
Zidane was considered one of the all-time greats as a player, his mixture of sublime skill wrapped up in a muscular package driving France to victory in the 1998 World Cup on home soil.