Zinedine Zidane has taken a break from coaching after leaving Real Madrid in 2021. The Frenchman has always been clear on the type of roles he is willing to take and has rebuffed the likes of PSG and Manchester United in recent seasons. Now with some free time and the chance to reflect, the Madrid legend sat down with former NBA star Tony Parker to discuss both his playing and coaching career. One item that stood out from the interview on the SKWEEK show was the difference Zidane saw in coaching Castilla vs the first team.
“I started training with Castilla, with the young players. And with the young players you are Zidane, they look at you like that. So when you talk, nobody says anything. They say ‘yes, yes, yes’. We don’t exchange points of view. I found that difficult because I need to exchange ideas. Maybe they were impressed. When I took the reins of the first team, there was a real conversation. It’s not that I discovered who I was, but I realized that I loved it,” Zidane recalled on his transition to the first team.
When asked if he expected or planned to become a coach, Zidane said “never”. Zidane mentioned that he loves, “being in the office and talking to the players.” Being a coach is now his passion.
Zidane made clear what he felt was an important part of every training session — the ball. “I always liked the game. I always liked to play. I always trained them with a ball, not just running around the field. Yes, it is important to run, but with a ball. The players like that. What I did as a coach is what I liked to do when I was a player. I need a ball and for you and me to share something, for us to have fun.”
The Frenchman has come to recognize the effort and work that is required as a coach — a completely different skillset and work ethic vs as a player: “Being a coach is another job entirely, you have to arrive early and quickly adapt. If more time is needed to implement ideas? Always - yes, totally. We agree on that. As a player, you train and you leave home. As a coach, you have to say that there is a film session, you have to worry about everyone. If one is not happy, maybe you have to invite him to dinner. You have to deal with all that. There is the session with the group, but there are also individual film sessions. I remember that when I started, I arrived at 8 in the morning and left at 11 at night. I did it for three weeks.”
Zidane is likely eager for his next managerial appointment but will wait for the right move. If Ancelotti and Real Madrid do not agree on a renewal, there could always be the temptation for a third spell as Madrid manager.