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Remembering Zinedine Zidane’s First Mistake with Madrid

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Before Zidane was head coach of Real Madrid, he made one bizarre signing

Real Madrid Training And Press Conference Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Zinedine Zidane has seen a lot of success since becoming a manager at Real Madrid. Whether it was with Castilla or the first team, the French legend has earned his fair share of glory in the nation’s capital. But that doesn’t mean he is not prone to mistakes.

One mistake that may forever loom over him was the signing of Eero Markkanen.

Signed in 2014 as Zidane’s first transfer, the 6-foot-5-inch behemoth of a striker graced Real Madrid’s academy with ambition and focus. To Markkanen, the move to Madrid, according to Zidane, was an “Excellent challenge. Right from the start, it was a pleasant surprise for [him] how much the new club knew about [him], [his] strengths and [his] areas for improvement.”

From the outside looking in, Markkanen appeared to be a decent signing. However, after taking a further look into his career, the move seemed a bit odd. Before his move to Madrid, he spent time in the lower tiers of Finnish football. He had a strong goal-scoring record, but once again, it was against easy opponents.

Those signs should’ve raised a few suspicions. Nevertheless, Markkanen joined Castilla, played ten games, and was chosen for Real Madrid’s 25-man squad (he did not make an appearance). Overall, he played in ten games for Castilla and scored two goals — a below average goal tally for someone hoping to make the first team.

A little less than a year later, Markkanen and Madrid ran into a problem. Rumors were circulating that Markkanen checked into training camp overweight. The Mirror reported that he had gained 18kg or about 40 pounds. These reports were later confirmed by other media outlets. Instead of commenting on the matter, Madrid never said a word, and cut him.

Where Madrid lacked in communication, Markkanen made up for. He fired a tweet making fun of the issue.

It is good to see that he was able to make light of the issue. Nevertheless, his career still ended in Madrid.

Luckily, he has recovered since the incident. Markkanen has found himself playing in Germany’s second tier with Dynamo Dresden. He continues to be looked at for the Finnish National Team and has totalled 13 appearances for his country.

Although his time with Madrid was short, he will always be remembered as Zidane’s first failed signing.