Soccer legend Zinedine Zidane blasted Real Madrid in an open letter published in Spain’s Diario AS on Monday just days after he stepped down from the club as manager.
It was the end of Zidane’s second stint with Real Madrid. He managed the club from 2016 to 2018 and again from 2019 to 2021. His clubs finished in first place in La Liga twice and the Supercopa de Espana twice.
After Real Madrid’s second-place finish in La Liga during the 2020-21 season, Zidane resigned.
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On Monday, his scathing letter was published in the Madrid-based sports publication.
“I’m leaving, but I’m not abandoning ship and I’m not 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 that the team needed something new to stay on top. Today things are different. I’m leaving because I feel the club is no longer giving me the trust I need, it isn’t offering me the support to build something medium- to long-term,” he wrote.
“I know the demands at a club like Madrid, I know that when you don’t win you have to go. But a very important thing has been forgotten here… I’m a born winner and I was here to win trophies, but beyond that are human beings, emotions, life, and I have the feeling that these things haven’t been valued.”
Zidane said he was “hurt” after he learned club president Florentino Perez planned to fire him if he didn’t win his final match.
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“That’s why it hurt me a lot when I read in the press, after a defeat, that they were going to sack me if I didn’t win the next game,” he wrote. “It hurt me and the whole team because these messages, intentionally leaked to the media, created negative interference with the staff, they created doubts and misunderstandings.”
He also took aim at the media as well.
“I’ve done hundreds of news conferences and, unfortunately, we’ve spoken very little about football,” he wrote. “Without meaning to [criticize] or teach you lessons, I would have liked it if the questions weren’t always directed toward controversy, that we would have talked more often about the ball and above all about the players, who are, and always will be, the most important thing in this game.”
He left the club after leading Madrid to a successful run between 2016 and 2018. The team won three consecutive Champions League titles and six other trophies. He won one league title and a Spanish Super Cup in his second stint.
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Real Madrid has not named a replacement for Zidane. Massimiliano Allegri, Antonio Conte, Xabi Alonso, and former Madrid great Raúl González have all been named as potential replacements.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.