Madrid - Real Madrid legend Zinedine Zidane
promised to put his "heart and soul" into managing the Spanish giants
after he was sensationally named as coach following Rafael Benitez's
The three-time world player of the year
takes over at the globe's richest club despite a limited coaching CV which
includes his stewardship of Real's feeder team, Castilla.
But Zidane, 43, said he would do his utmost
to make sure Real, currently third in La Liga after an unhappy spell under
Benitez, land silverware this year.
"We have the best club in the world,
the best fans and what we have to do now, and what I will try my best to do, is
ensure the team wins at the end of the season," said the Frenchman.
"I'm more excited now than I was when
I signed as a player. I am going to put my heart and soul into this job so that
everything works out well," he added.
The length of Zidane's contract was not
announced. He becomes the 11th coach to be appointed under Madrid president
Florentino Perez, whose two spells in charge stretch to just over 12 years.
Perez said it was a "difficult
decision" to part ways with Benitez, whose seven-month reign came to an
end after Sunday's 2-2 draw with Valencia.
Benitez struggled to win over both Madrid's
fans and their superstars including Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos, in a
stint that was also marked by off-field controversies.
Zidane inherits a team which is four points
adrift of city rivals Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga, and two behind
nemesis Barcelona, who have a game in hand.
However, Real also qualified with room to
spare for the Champions League knock-out stages, where they have been drawn
against Roma in the last 16.
All eyes will now be on whether the
untested Zidane has the temperament and tactical ability to gel Madrid's
Galacticos into a trophy-winning unit.
Zidane is not known for his communication
skills, and his playing career ended with an infamous headbutt in the 2006
World Cup final.
But he is respected by Madrid's players and
adored by their fans for his feats on the field, highlighted by his brilliant
winner in the 2002 Champions League final.
"As president it is an honour to have
you at my side because I know for you the word impossible doesn't exist,"
Zidane failed to get Castilla promoted from
the third tier of Spanish football last season, but they currently lie second
in the regional Segunda Division B having lost just two of 19 games this
The Frenchman was also part of Carlo
Ancelotti's coaching staff when they won the Champions League and Copa del Rey
"The best person for the job,"
trumpeted David Beckham, a former team-mate of Zidane at Real, on Instagram.
"Someone with drive, passion and also
doesn't accept failure on any level... taking on a position that he will
relish," added the ex-England captain.
Perez had publicly backed Benitez despite
growing pressure in recent weeks which saw him routinely jeered by his own
fans, but he is believed to have finally bowed to the will of the players and
Right from the start of his reign in June,
Benitez struggled to gain the respect of Madrid's star-studded squad with many
senior players voicing their displeasure at the sacking of his predecessor
A run of three league defeats in five games
in November and December, including a 4-0 thrashing at home to Barcelona, wiped
away the early credit Benitez had gained with an unbeaten 14-game start.
Further embarrassment was to follow when
Madrid were thrown out of the Copa del Rey for fielding an ineligible player
Real were also embroiled in a tit-for-tat
war of words with Manchester United after the summer deadline-day $43 million transfer
of the English club's goalkeeper David De Gea chaotically collapsed when the
player was not registered in time -- with each club blaming the other for the
Benitez's relationship with the dressing
room has also failed to improve with key players such as Karim Benzema and
James Rodriguez often showing their disgust at being substituted.
Off-field distractions also took their toll
with Benzema facing blackmail charges over a sex-tape, and Rodriguez accused of
speeding at up to 200kph before the Valencia game.