Zinedine Zidane. The mythical, legendary fútbol figure par excellence. Madridismo embodied. The strong, silent player. The man with unmatched intensity (if you have yet to watch Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, now is the time. It’s available on Youtube.) The hero who captured the imagination of fans around the world long before the infamous headbutt. Rafa out, Zizou in! Day one is done, fam.
Now that we’ve had a few hours, a practice and a presser – plenty of time to process our excitement, raw emotion, utter shock and disbelief – it’s time to review Zidane’s introduction as Florentino’s 11th coach, the 47th in club history and the first Frenchman for the job.
Let’s start with Florentino. The nutjob has been quoted by AS saying that he’s “proud” to have Zizou by his side, but let’s be real – this is definitely some bullshit. Former Madrid president Ramón Calderón seems to agree; he made the following statement to BBC Radio: “I wish Zidane all the best, but I’m sure it’s going to be very difficult. He is not the one that the President wanted. He was trying to sign Mourinho and he didn’t want Zidane. That is the truth. I don’t know if he will be successful, but if he is not, Mourinho will be on the bench in June.”
I haven’t been the most vocal supporter on the Zidane-for-gaffer bus – his record of 26 wins, 17 draws and 14 losses with Castilla in the third flight of Spanish fútbol falls well short of spectacular – but his unequaled legend status, galáctico experience and general badass vibes are swinging me towards the vuelvo a creer crew.
Former teammates and world fútbol cracks appear to be amped as well:
Many are hoping that Zizou will be what Lucho and / or Pep have been to Barça.
But Zidane is his own man. Never question that.
“Guardiola is Guardiola,” he told the press after his first practice with the team. “I will do my best. I will not compare myself with anyone. I never did it as a player and I won’t do it now.” Strong words from an even stronger man. Seeing his composed, naturally introverted persona put in the limelight is exhilarating AF.
The only player seemingly feeling some kinda way about Rafa’s departure is Gareth Bale, who missed this morning’s training session. Zidane said, “I understand Gareth might be upset with Rafa leaving. But he will get the same affection and support from me as from Rafa.”
Bale might just be bumming because this is what really went down during the locker room welcome party:
Zidane’s message is simple: hard work, intensity, attacking fútbol. Zizou favors a 4-2-3-1, but he has been known to employ a defensive midfielder when necessary. Will his return deliver the attractive fútbol with úndecima potential that we’ve all been dying to see in action at the Santiago Bernabéu? We’ll get our first taste this Saturday, when Madrid hosts Deportivo La Coruña.