A Frenchman, an Italian and a Spaniard walk into a bar as a Portuguese walks out…this of course is not the start of a joke, and they aren’t walking into a bar, they’re walking into one of the most storied and famous sporting venues in Europe, The Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. The Italian and Spaniard are of course newly appointed Real Madrid Manager Carlo Ancelotti and Real Madrid President Florentino Perez. The Frenchman though, is the only member of the trio to have graced the pitch of the Bernabeu as a Madrid player. Now Zinedine Zidane will be sitting on the Real Madrid bench once more, this time as one of Carlo Ancelotti’s two assistant managers.
Zidane will also work with fellow assistant manager Paul Clement. Clement first worked with the Ancelotti at Chelsea after making his way through youth rank coaching all the way to first team assistant under Guus Hiddink and stayed there through Ancelottis tenure. Ancelotti was so impressed with Clement’s work that after the Italian’s appointment with Parisian powerhouse PSG he brought him on as assistant manager. Now Clement, a man with full management aspirations but no professional football experience will being working alongside a man with similar management aspirations with one of the greatest player resumes in existence.
This is not Zidane’s first return to Real Madrid following his retirement from professional football. He actually makes the move to assistant manager horizontally within the Real Madrid hierarchy. In 2009, following the naming of Perez as Real Madrid president, Zidane was announced as a personal adviser to Perez. He would work with Jorge Valdano, and Miguel Pardeza, the General and Sporting Directors as integral decision makers with regards to the sporting aspects of the club. From here, following appeals from previous manager Jose Mourinho and Perez in 2010, Zidane moved into a special adviser role to the first team. In this position he traveled with the first team, attended both training sessions and coaches meetings, while also participating in Champions League events and functions according to Reuters. In a year, he would grow out of this role and become Real Madrid’s Sporting Director in July of 2011.
Ancelotti, in his first press conference in Madrid spoke of the primary goal for, Champions League glory and his acceptance of that challenge, “I have that ambition and that responsibility, that is not a problem for me. Every year the coach has a responsibility. To win la decima is such a big motivation.” Ancelotti has won the Champions League as both a player and a manager with AC Milan but what is also important is that with a current crop of Galacticos at Madrid, Zidane could be very influential as an original Galactico and a member of the last Madrid squad to lift the Big Eared Champions League Trophy. Another former team mate of Zidanes is also coaching with the Club, former Madrid and Spain striker Fernando Morientes is currently in the Madrid youth ranks so it seems that given Zidane’s history with the club, and recent interactions, he is set to find himself in a good environment to be successful in his new position off the pitch.
Voted one of the greatest footballers of all time, Zinedine Zidane is a a Ballon D’or winner, a three-time FIFA World Player of the Year , is listed among FIFA’s 100 Greatest Living Footballers, and was named the UEFA Champions League’s Best Player for the past 20 years in 2011. Beyond this he is a World Cup and European Championship winner with France, as w a Champions League winner with Real Madrid and has won both Serie A and La Liga championship titles. The Frenchman retired from the game in dramatic fashion after headbutting Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup Final between Italy and France resulting in him being red carded and ejected in the final game of his career. FIFA banned Zidane for 3 international matches as a result of his red card but since he had retired from professional football, Zidane agreed to do 3 days community service with one of FIFA’s humanitarian projects.
Since his retirement Zidane has participated in a number of different charity events, most of which are matches where the proceeds are donated. He has represented major causes including Soccer Aid, Unicef, the United Nations Development Program as well as regularly playing for the Real Madrid Veterans team.
Unlike the Premier League, the fixtures for La Liga’s 2013/14 season have not been released yet and so we aren’t aware of who this Italian, English and French trio will face in their first match of the upcoming season but we do know that it will naturally be highly anticipated and discussed.