Real Madrid picked one of its most successful figures to try to end one of its worst crises.
Zinedine Zidane is returning to coach Madrid, the club he led to three straight Champions League titles before quitting while on top nine months ago.
Madrid announced Monday that Zidane accepted an offer to replace Santiago Solari and signed a contract until June 2022 to try to get the club back on track after a disastrous season.
The coaching change came less than a week after two losses to Barcelona and another to Ajax – results eliminated the club from the Champions League and the Copa del Rey and virtually ended its hopes of winning the Spanish league.
“I’m very happy to be back home. I’ve recharged my batteries and now I’m ready again for the experience of being Real Madrid’s coach. I’m motivated to be coaching again,” Zidane said. “What I want to do now is return to work and put the club back where it belongs.”
Spanish television channel La Sexta was the first to report Zidane’s return. The announcement came after the board of directors met Monday in Madrid.
“You have an incredible history with the club, both as a player and as a coach,” Madrid president Florentino Perez told Zidane. “We are proud to have you with us again. You represent the grandiosity of this club. Thank you for your loyalty.”
Zidane, who won the 2002 Champions League while playing for Madrid, said he was never in doubt after receiving the offer from Perez.
“I love this club, and when the president called me, I couldn’t say no,” Zidane said. “I’ll give everything I have to make this club better.”
Zidane quit not long after Madrid won the Champions League title last season, saying that he and the club needed a change in command to keep succeeding. He won nine titles in his first stint with Madrid.
Zidane will be in charge of Tuesday’s practice session, and his first game back will be on Saturday at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium against Celta Vigo. Madrid trails leader Barcelona by 12 points with 11 matches left and is five points behind second-place Atletico Madrid.
“I’ve been watching the season closely and I’m also not happy with how things have gone,” Zidane said. “We have to see what we can (do) to improve and make sure things can be different going forward.”
Solari led the team to a 4-1 win at Valladolid on Sunday and was in charge of practice on Monday.