What has been said?
While explaining the reasons for his departure, Zidane said: “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.”
The 48-year-old also mentioned that he “would have liked” his relationship with club president Florentino Perez to be “a little different to that of other coaches”.
He added: “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.”
Was Zidane’s departure a surprise?
There were reports for weeks that Zidane was considering his future and a story in AS claimed that he had told the players after the 2-2 draw with Sevilla on May 9 that he would be leaving.
Madrid’s ageing squad faltered late in their title challenge and with club president Perez already holding conversations with potential replacements, the writing was on the wall long before last Thursday’s announcement.
Who could replace him at Madrid?
Raul, the club’s legendary former striker, is the in-house candidate after managing Real’s reserves.
While promoting another former galactico would be replicating Zidane’s path, the availability of Antonio Conte — who left Inter Milan last week — could change everything.
Conte is an elite coach and has held talks with Madrid on a few occasions previously, coming closest to taking the job when Julen Lopetegui was fired in 2018.
Massimiliano Allegri seemed to be the favourite to replace Zidane but the 56-year-old was appointed the new manager of Juventus following Andrea Pirlo’s dismissal.
What next for Zidane?
Zidane won three consecutive European Cups as a coach and, while he has his detractors, that is a pedigree that is difficult to argue with.
Didier Deschamps’ contract with France runs until 2022 and the World Cup in Qatar but a disastrous Euros this summer might change things. Otherwise, Zidane could well be content to take some time away from the game, as he did after leaving Madrid the last time.
Where can I find out more?
For further detail on Zidane’s departure from Real, and why it has been different this time around, Go Deeper with The Athletic’s Dermot Corrigan below.
(Photo: Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)