Zinedine Zidane, the only coach to win the Champions League three times in a row, has left Real Madrid. The Spanish giants made the shock announcement on Thursday, describing it as 'unexpected'.
Real Madrid have announced that Zinedine Zidane, their coach since 2016, has left the club.
The announcement comes just five days after the former Los Blancos player-turned-coach won a third successive Champions League title with victory over Liverpool in Kyiv.
Zidane, 45, also won La Liga in 2017 and his shock departure brings to an end an unprecedented period of success for the Frenchman.
The news was confirmed in a press conference which was called just 90 minutes earlier.
"I have taken the decision not to continue next year as Real Madrid coach," Zidane told reporters on Thursday. "This is the right moment for everyone. It might seem a bit strange but it had to be done for the good of everyone, the players, the club and myself."
Madrid finished 18 points behind Barcelona in La Liga this season but salvaged their campaign in stunning style in Kyiv. Despite that victory, Zidane suggested it was time for the club to move in a fresh direction.
"I love this club but what I think is that this team needs to continue winning but I think it needs a change, a different voice, another methodology. And that's why I took this decision."
Zidane suffered just 16 defeats in his 149 games in charge, with a win ratio of 69.8 percent (104 wins, 29 draws). This included a club-record run of 40 unbeaten games between April 2016 and January 2017.
The former Juventus player, who also won La Liga and Champions League during a five-year spell as a Real Madrid player between 2001 and 2006, admitted his decision was influenced by some of the disappointing moments he suffered with the team.
"I can't forget about the hard moments, we have just won the Champions League but the tough moments make you think," he said.
"There have been a lot of good moments like winning the Champions League, but the best thing as a coach is winning La Liga, that was, for me, the best.
"The worst moment was losing against Leganes in the Copa del Rey quarter-final, that stays with me."
However he said this was not the end of his link with the club: "This could be a 'see you later', because Madrid has given everything to me," added Zidane. "I will be close to this club all my life."
The early frontrunner to replace Zidane is Tottenham Hotspur coach Mauricio Pochettino, who has impressed during his spell in north London. Juventus' Massimiliano Allegri, former Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger and former Real Madrid player Guti are also in the running.