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Zinedine Zidane, the New Boss of Real Madrid

Zinedine ZidaneLove them or hate them, you cannot deny the rich history and powerhouse glory that is Real Madrid. On January 4th, 2016, the international French soccer icon was appointed head manager and boss for the Spanish giants after the dismissal of then-manager Rafael Benitez. With Madrid on fire, I am not shocked by the speculation that fans, critics, and soccer analysis are having over Perez’s decision to promote Zidane as the new manager. When we think of Zidane, we think of a player who has taken the fundamentals of the game and created an elegant masterpiece filled with grace, art, and style throughout the entirety of his soccer career. Renowned for his vision, ball control, and technique, Zidane set himself amongst his competitors and peers through every second that he played. At the club level, Zidane won the La Liga title and UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid, two Serie A league championships with Juventus, an Intercontinental Cup and a UEFA Super Cup for both aforementioned teams, three FIFA World Player of the Year trophies, and one Ballon d’Or Player of the year trophy. On the international stage with France, Zidane won the 1998 FIFA World Cup and the 2000 UEFA Euros.

“Zidane is the master. Over the past ten years, there’s been no one like him. He has been the best player in the world.” ~ Pele

Without a doubt, Zidane’s imprint and legacy on the game still continues to this day. Even after the 2006 World Cup ‘heat-butt’ incident during the last game of his incredible and successful career, the reputation of style, grace, and class still continued to embody him both personally and professionally. While Zidane may have ended his professional career, it was no surprise that the former French international captain sought his sights for the big chair as head coach for Real Madrid. In November 2010, Zidane was appointed as a special advisor to Real Madrid’s first team with ten-Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho. In 2013, Zidane gained more coaching exposure as he was appointed assistant coach to Carlo Ancelotti. By June 2014, Zidane was given his own reins as coach of Real Madrid’s B-team, Real Madrid Castillas. But with Real Madrid’s first team’s shaky start into the 2015-2016 season, the Real Madrid board and President Florentino Perez felt that the best decision for the club’s future is to leave it to their former star and prodigal child, Zinedine Zidane.

Real Madrid's coach Ancelotti watches his assistant Zidane shout at their players during their Champions League final soccer match against Atletico Madrid at Luz stadium in Lisbon While I am pleased and joyful for Zidane’s accomplishment, I do think there is some worry about him assuming the position as head coach at the Santiago Bernabeu. Yes, Zidane has always been known as one of Florentino Perez’s favorites to coach Real in the future. But the fact of the matter is that he is still very much inexperienced. Having a decent season with Real Madrid Castilla and a mediocre debut coaching the team last season, we have to question what will happen to Zidane in three months with the first team. Like Casillas, Zidane is considered Real Madrid’s golden boy. Even when he left the pitch for retirement, he was still regarded as the Spanish giants’ icon and ambassador. With Real Madrid’s notorious reputation of relieving and firing managers and head coaches left and right, my biggest concern, if not everyone’s biggest concern, is what will happen to his reputation if the pieces do not fall into place? What if he cannot replicate the successes of his former predecessors? Or worse, what if he loses control of the team? These questions are of course not meant to discredit Zidane and everything that he has done for the game, but to highlight the ever-growing problem that has existed within the Bernabeu.

As a fan of the game, I wish Zidane the best of luck. I, like many fans and critics, will just have to see what the French legend can do with Real Madrid. If worse comes to worse, Manchester United will always welcome their arms for Zizou.