Zidane replaces Benitez at Real Madrid
Rafael Benitez has been sacked as manager of Real Madrid after just seven months in charge at the Bernabeu.
The 55-year-old Spaniard was relieved of his duties following a meeting of the club’s board today.
Real’s B team coach Zinedine Zidane, 43, has been promoted to the role of first-team boss.
Frenchman Zidane, a former Real player and World Cup winner, said: “I am going to put my heart and soul into this job so that everything works out well.”
Benitez’s final game was Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Valencia, which left them third in La Liga, four points behind leaders Atletico Madrid.
For a man with no experience of managing at the top level, Zidane’s appointment could be considered a risk –– but he has long been seen as a future Real boss.
Zidane has been coach of Real’s B team –– who are second in the Spanish third tier –– since 2014. Prior to that he was an integral member of the backroom staff under then Real boss Carlo Ancelotti, who led the side to “La Decima” –– the club’s 10th European Cup.
During his playing career, the Frenchman was one of Real’s key “Galacticos” –– a label given to the expensive players signed by club president Florentino Perez in the early to mid-2000s.
Real paid Juventus a then world record fee of £45.8m in 2001 for the midfielder, who had already won the World Cup and European Championship.
At the Bernabeu, he played alongside players such as Luis Figo, Raul and Ronaldo, and also featured in the same midfield as England captain David Beckham.
During a five-year stay, he helped the side win the Spanish league in 2003 and was named FIFA world player of the year for the third time that year.
But perhaps his defining moment came during the 2002 Champions League final, when he scored a stunning volley against Bayer Leverkusen at Hampden Park.