Madrid - Zinedine Zidane's smooth transition from Real
Madrid legend as a player to Champions League winning coach has caught many by
surprise, but Real president Florentino Perez believes success was guaranteed
by the Frenchman's "love story" with the Spanish giants.
Zidane dazzled for five years as a Madrid player after being
signed by Perez for a then-world record fee in 2001. Yet his incredible record
in 11 months since being handed his first senior managerial role has more than
rivalled his accomplishments as a player.
Having suffered just two defeats in 48 games in charge,
Zidane led Madrid to an 11th European Cup at the first time of asking in May
and has Los Blancos on the way to a first La Liga title in five years by
opening a six-point lead on Barcelona ahead of El Clasico on Saturday.
"He changed the history of this club as a player and it
was such an easy option for us. He is someone who came here to offer a new and
distinct future... it was obvious that he would do a great job," Perez
told AFP in an exclusive interview.
"It has been a beautiful and eternal love story and
that is why I am not surprised by the results he is getting and those that are
still to come."
Madrid's form under Zidane is even more remarkable given
that his predecessor Rafael Benitez lasted just seven months at the Santiago
Bernabeu with his short-lived reign blighted by poor results and player
It is the respect garnered from his playing days that Perez
believes sets Zidane apart.
"Zidane last year changed our lives. As well as working
very well from a professional point of view, he has an authority with the
players because he was a great player. He was one of the greatest ever,"
added Perez, a construction magnate, proudly sitting before Real's 11 European
Cups in the club's decorated trophy room.
"When he says things, when he speaks with the players,
he has the recognition and the authority you have to have."
Also read: Ronaldo scores 2 as Real Madrid equals Ancelotti's run
- Ronaldo worth every penny -
Zidane has the luxury of one of the most expensively
assembled squads in world football at his disposal, led by Real's all-time
record goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo.
"Cristiano is also special," said Perez. "His
stats are scandalous."
The Portuguese recently signed a lucrative new five-year
contract with Madrid, protecting his position as the highest-paid sportsman in
"We are delighted with Cristiano Ronaldo. He gives us
more than we pay him. We have renewed his contract for five more years and we
are very proud to have done so."
Perez's two spells in charge have been characterised by
blockbuster "Galactico" signings.
Madrid have topped Deloitte's Football Money League for 11
straight years, but Barcelona (679 million euros, $720 million) and Bayern
Munich (627 million euros) have posted a higher turnover for last season than
Real's 620 million euros despite their Champions League success.
Meanwhile, backed by 8.3 billion ($10 billion) television
rights deals for the Premier League and massive commercial contracts,
Manchester United captured Paul Pogba for a world-record 105 million euros in
"When I first arrived (as president) in 2000 there were
already English teams making more money, particularly Manchester United. We
have had 15 years of success in every aspect, including economically,"
"We know we have to compete with the English, French,
Germans and Italians, we are continuing to work on that."
As part of the club's plans for economic growth, work on
upgrading the Bernabeu is scheduled to start next year at a cost of 400 million
euros with the aim of improving fans' experience as well as generating greater
income from corporate facilities.
"I am one who believes that if Madrid have the best
players in the world in every position, then the revenue will not be a
problem," concluded Perez with a confident air that Real are not about to
be knocked off their perch.For
the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us
on Twitter and like our Facebook page.