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Zidane discusses how football has transformed since his playing days

The Real Madrid legend gave a lengthy interview to The Athletic.

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Real Madrid CF v Sevilla FC - LaLiga Santander Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Zinedine Zidane has taken a break from football since his departure as Real Madrid manager back in the summer of 2021. He devotes his time to his family (inclduing his new granddaughter courtesy of his eldest son, Enzo) and building new Z5 facilities around the world, and all of his many commercial activities. Despite the differing commitments, Zidane always finds time to watch football. In an interview with The Athletic, the Madrid legend talked about the differences in the game vs when he was a player.

“There are a lot of players I like,” Zidane revealed, “But in general what impresses me is the physical fitness that is necessary now. The demands are to play every three days. It is different to my era when, if you had a physical problem, you could compensate with your technique. It is not the same today. You really need to be physically prepared, a top athlete. You need both physicality and technique.” As a manager, Zidane recgonized this change and often prioritized the physical side of the game. His appointments of fitness experts, Pintus and Dupont, were critical to his success as a manager.

The Frenchman went on to discuss the differences today in how kids grow-up with football and the impact of video games. “When we were kids, it was just a little pitch, on concrete, no cage, bibs for goalposts. Football today is a different world. The same passion, but it’s a different scenario. Kids play on PlayStation and you hear: ‘Oh, they’re always on their console!’ But no, it’s good. It’s almost reality for them. When you play, you almost have the feeling you are on the pitch. You shouldn’t overlook that. It’s just the kids’ way of getting into it. So if they like it, they should be allowed to because their life outside is difficult in certain neighborhoods. Today’s generation has its own way. You just want kids to still find wonder in what’s happening.”

The World Cup winner was very clear minded when asked about “instict” for the game. Can that be nurtured? Is it being phased out. Zidane was honest: “For me, imagination is an instinct. It has to be instinctive. Often young players are taught to shoot like this, pass like that. They’re formatted. Today the kids between eight and 10 should play for fun. Sometimes, you need to show them little technical things because they need solid foundations. But beyond that, no. Their imagination is just that — it has to be instinctive. They have to have fun.”

The full interview can be found here. It is unclear what the future holds for Zidane, but the coach who produced a 3-peat in the UEFA Champions League with his beloved Real Madrid has been vocal about his desire to return to the bench.

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