In less than two-and-a-half seasons, the Frenchman who was already a club legend after his playing career, elevated himself to the status of one of the greatest figures to be associated with Los Blancos in the Whites’ decorated history.
Here are Seven Deadly Stats from Zidane’s magnificent reign.
BEST IN MADRID’S HISTORY?
Zidane’s indelible mark on the club is best summed up by how they’ve swept up just about every trophy available, with the Copa del Rey the only competition the 45-year-old has failed to win.
Nine trophies in less than three seasons. Wildly successful seems like an understatement. Is he already Madrid’s greatest ever manager?
9 - Zinedine Zidane picked up nine trophies in his two years and four months with Real Madrid, the most titles by a manager with the club since Miguel Muñoz won 14 trophies in 14 years (1960 - 1974). Galactico. pic.twitter.com/9h43EUoGb7— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 31, 2018
AN UNPARALLELED LEGACY
His overall trophy count is impressive, but Zidane will be defined by three of those. Nobody had won the Champions League even twice in a row before he showed up in the Madrid dugout. Three in a row was borderline unthinkable.
But Zizou pulled it off, joining Carlo Ancelotti and Bob Paisley as the only managers to have won the trophy three times. Which club will take him to his fourth?
40 - Zinedine Zidane oversaw 40 unbeaten games with Real in all competitions between April 2016 and January 2017, a record for the club. Unrivalled. pic.twitter.com/aDtL4AhP7T— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 31, 2018
THEY ALWAYS SCORED
Even more impressive than the unbeaten run was the scoring streak. For a record-tying 73 games, Real Madrid scoring at least once was the safest best in football.
Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid scored in 73 consecutive games across all competitions from April 2016 to September 2017.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 31, 2018
Equalling the streak of Pelé's Santos from 1963. 😳 pic.twitter.com/2yXiByYr6Y
A TRUE JUGGERNAUT
Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid became the first side in LaLiga history to win 13 consecutive away games.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 31, 2018
February to October 2017. pic.twitter.com/XG9IKdMifA
THE GALACTICO WHO WASN’T
As a player Zidane embodied Real Madrid’s previous Galactico era, joining the club in a record-setting £48million transfer from Juventus in 2001.
As a manager, however, he was quite the opposite. If anything, his spell was an anti-Galactico era. He benefitted from having inherited a deeply talented squad, but in any case, his emphasis on youth development was admirable. There were plenty of young players already at the club, either in the academy or on the fringes of the first-team, who have developed under Zidane, whose only transfer purchases were young players – Alvaro Morata, Dani Ceballos, and Theo Hernandez.
His trophies to spending ratio is quite impressive.
Transfer expenditure during Zidane’s #RealMadrid reign:#Zidane €70.5 million— indifoot (@indifoot) May 31, 2018
Mourinho €349.4 million
Conte €390.6 million
Guardiola €528.5 million
Titles over the last three years:
Zidane 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 (9)
Guardiola 🏆🏆 (2)
Conte 🏆🏆 (2)
Mourinho 🏆🏆🏆 (3) pic.twitter.com/K0LlN5cDR8
THAT WIN PERCENTAGE
Club president Florentino Perez said that Madrid don’t yet have a replacement in mind for Zidane. Anyone who steps in is going to have a tough act to follow.
A man with a near 70% win percentage is tough to top. And then there are the trophies.
Although he was only in the role for two-and-a-half years, he had a deep influence on every member of his squad, not least because he led them to unprecedented success. A historic three straight Champions League titles, the league-and-European double last season which Real Madrid hadn’t done for 59 years, and nine trophies in all – it’s safe to say the Frenchman led his squad to heights beyond their wildest dreams.
Madrid’s players were quick to heap praise on the outgoing club legend.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who has benefitted from Zidane’s management arguably more than anyone else, said: “I’m proud to have been your player. Thanks for everything.”
Míster, como jugador y ahora como entrenador, decidiste despedirte en lo más alto. Gracias por dos años y medio de fútbol, trabajo, cariño y amistad. Te vas pero tu legado ya es imborrable. Uno de los capítulos mas exitosos de la historia de nuestro querido @realmadrid As a player and coach you decided to say goodbye at the top. Thank you for two and a half incredible years. Your legacy will never be erased, one of the most successful chapters in the history of our beloved @realmadrid.
Gracias por todo lo que has hecho por mi y por el equipo. Ha sido un honor poder ganar contigo y aprender de ti durante estas dos temporadas. Te deseo lo mejor Míster. pic.twitter.com/anUoYMKGWU— Marco Asensio (@marcoasensio10) May 31, 2018
“Thank you for everything you’ve done for me and the team,” said Marco Asensio, one of the exciting young talents whose career has been given a kick-start by Zidane. “It has been an honour to be able to win with you and learn from you during these two seasons. I wish you the best, Mister.”
No tengo palabras para agradecerte todo lo que has hecho por este vestuario, por el Real Madrid y por el madridismo. Ha sido un orgullo y un privilegio tener como entrenador a mi ídolo. Eterno Zizou. pic.twitter.com/wjK45SMQz7— Casemiro (@Casemiro) May 31, 2018
Casemiro, who has developed into one of the world’s best midfielders under Zidane’s tutelage, said: “I have no words to thank you for everything you’ve done for this shirt, for Real Madrid and Madrid fans. It has been a pride and privilege to have my idol as my coach. Eternal Zizou.”
Lucas Vazquez has been among Zidane’s favoured players at Madrid, going from utility player to vital young star, and duly paid tribute to his manager.
“It’s been a real pleasure playing under your, mister. Legend as a player, and now also as a coach. It has been an honor to learn and win by your side. I wish you the best. Thank you and see you soon,” his message reads.
Gracias Mister! It’s been a pleasure!🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/99VzaBxUoV— Toni Kroos (@ToniKroos) May 31, 2018
#Zidane Simplemente darte las gracias por estos 2 años y medio como nuestro entrenador, has sido un profesional increíble al igual que todo tu staff.— Dani Carvajal Ramos (@DaniCarvajal92) May 31, 2018
He aprendido muchísimo como jugador y persona a tus órdenes, te deseo lo mejor y de nuevo #GraciasZidane #GraciasZizou pic.twitter.com/5wlLGmn5G0
The sentiments were the same throughout the squad. Dani Carvajal, who has become one of Europe’s premier right-backs, had this to say: “Just to thank you for these 2 and a half years as our coach, you have been an amazing professional like all your staff. I have learned a lot as player and person at your command, I wish you the best.”
Isco, whose explosive talent has been harnessed to perfection by Zidane, despite their occasional differences, gave his manager a glowing tribute.
“It has been an honor to work with you, learn every day and win all together because you managed to make this team something historical. I wish you the best.”
Mister Zizou. He aprendido muchísimo a tu lado!— Marcelotwelve (@MarceloM12) May 31, 2018
He disfrutado como un niño a cada entrenamiento, a cada consejo!
Eres muy especial para mi!
Has hecho historia con tu trabajo, tu dedicación, pasión y sobretodo con tu humildad!
Gracias Mister #marchelin 😭 pic.twitter.com/MvWCwjYSqR
“Mr. Zizou. I learned a lot by your side! I have enjoyed every workout, every bit of advice, like a child!” left-back Marcelo said. “You’re very special to me! You have made history with your work, your dedication, passion and especially with your humility! Thank you Mister.”
Gracias mister por todo lo que me has hecho vivir estos 2 años y medio. Tu entrega por tus jugadores y el club siempre fue lo mas importante para ti, y por eso eres un referente para todos. GraZZias por todo y suerte en el futuro!! pic.twitter.com/ZoMlBOw13n— Nacho Fernández (@nachofi1990) May 31, 2018
Nacho, Madrid’s do-everything defender, had a special way of paying homage to Zidane, inserting his initials into “gracias” while thanking the Frenchman.
“Thank you mister for all that you have made me live these 2 and a half years. Your delivery for your players and the club was always the most important thing for you, and that’s why you’re a benchmark for everyone. GraZZias for everything and luck in the future!”
Meanwhile, Real Madrid’s collection of youngsters, all of whom have earned Zidane’s patience and trust at this fledgling state of their careers, all showed their appreciation for their manager, with Achraf Hakimi, Theo Hernandez, Dani Ceballos, Borja Mayoral, and Marcos Llorente all sending out goodwill messages.
Achraf: “Eternally grateful for your confidence, mister and for being the person who allowed me to fulfill the dream of playing with the first team of Real Madrid.”
“A pleasure to have worked with you and have learned so much from you,” said Hernandez.
Gracias por todo lo que he aprendido de ti este año. Dejas un legado muy grande en el Real Madrid. Fuiste leyenda como jugador y ahora también como entrenador. Te deseo lo mejor, míster⚽🙏🏽🙌🏽 pic.twitter.com/v7nGZnQk6p— Daniel Ceballos (@DaniCeballos46) May 31, 2018
“Thank you for everything I’ve learned from you this year. You leave a very big legacy in Real Madrid. You were a legend as a player and now also as a coach. I wish you the best, Mister.”
La palabra GRACIAS se queda pequeña para mostrarte mi gratitud. Jamás podré agradecerte lo suficiente toda tu confianza en mí y la oportunidad que me has dado de cumplir mi gran sueño. Ha sido un privilegio aprender cada día de ti. Ojalá nuestros caminos vuelvan a juntarse pronto pic.twitter.com/rYBOA28Gnb— Borja Mayoral (@Mayoral_Borja) May 31, 2018
Mayoral added: “‘Thank you’ is not enough to show my gratitude. I will never be able to thank you enough for all your trust in me and the opportunity you have given me to fulfill my great dream. It has been a privilege to learn every day from you. I hope our paths will cross again soon.”
Míster, contigo hemos aprendido, hemos crecido y hemos conseguido lo que parecía imposible. Te vas en lo más alto. Muchas gracias de parte de todo el madridismo.— Marcos Llorente (@marcosllorente) May 31, 2018
“Mister, with you we have learned, we have grown and we have achieved what seemed impossible. You’re going to the top. Thank you very much from all the Madrid fans”, said Marcos Llorente.
And of course, Zidane’s son Luca, who was given his debut in Madrid’s final La Liga match of the season, joined the chorus of applause.
But the club said it best.
Plans laid out in the final months of 2017/18 between the legendary head coach and president Florentino Perez could now need to be ripped apart by whomever comes in as replacement.
This change of direction will have a profound impact on several members of a squad that only last weekend claimed its third-successive Champions League trophy.
Here, we run through who will be most impacted.
No one can question Bale’s sense of timing.
The Wales forward had stolen the headlines with a startling brace in Saturday’s Champions League final after a season in the shadows and he wasn’t wasting this opportunity to unload.
“I need to be playing week in, week out, and that’s not happened this season,” he told BT Sport.
The remarks would soon become sharper.
Bale added: “Obviously I was very disappointed not to start the game, I have deserved it but the manager makes the decisions.”
Everything then seemed to point inexorably towards the exit door. But Bale has been beaten to it by “the manager”.
A new man in charge could signal fresh opportunity for someone afforded just 27 starts in all competitions during 2017/18.
Benzema’s transformation into a figure of ridicule and frustration accelerated in 2017/18.
The former France striker struck just five times in 32 La Liga run-outs. These figures scarcely improve to 12 goals during 47 matches in all competitions.
This return would be unacceptable for a striker at Alaves, never mind the 13-time Champions League winners.
Yet, even in the darkest moment, Benzema always found an advocate in his countryman.
“People who like football have to like Benzema,” Zidane said in March.
Not the first, or certainly, only words of positivity delivered by the boss about his misfiring front man.
But now this safety net has been wrenched aside, what comes next for Benzema and will he be afforded the chance to complete a decade’s service at Santiago Bernabeu?
With the pressure to achieve almost unbearable for Zidane’s successor, the procurement of a prolific replacement seems inevitable.
A complex relationship between sublime playmakers from different generations was laid bare this spring.
“In Madrid, I don’t have the confidence a player needs,” Isco told Marca after his sublime hat-trick during March’s 6-1 humbling of Argentina by Spain.
“The matches with the national team give me life. Here, I have the confidence of the coach.”
Isco had been the revelation of Zidane’s reign, being granted a central role to shine during 2016/17’s run to La Liga and Champions League success. Yet, his form mirrored the teams’ in the next campaign – a poor beginning and a better end.
Murmurs of discontent placed the 26-year-old in the sights of Manchester City – rumours flatly rejected by head coach Pep Guardiola.
Remove the creative tension with Zidane and he could blossom again. Or, his struggles to be granted space tactically from the days of Carlo Ancelotti could be repeated.
Either way, Isco still remains at a crossroads.
Loyalty has been a major facet of Zidane’s Madrid reign.
A repeat beneficiary of this stance has been Costa Rica goalkeeper Navas.
Perez foisted Athletic Bilbao’s Kepa Arrizzabalaga on the French supremo during January. The move was aborted.
Manchester United and Spain No1 David De Gea’s name has never been removed from Perez’s mind after 2015’s near miss. But Zidane has steadfastly refused to reignite this switch.
Even after errors, and there have been enough to cause consternation, his belief has not wavered.
“It is part of the game, he can make a mistake like everyone else,” Zidane told Marca after Navas’ woeful display in defeat at Real Betis in April 2017.
“At the end, he saved the game for us and I, like all of the players, are still in support of Keylor.”
A new supremo may have entirely different ideas.
The breakout of Roma and Brazil’s Alisson is sure to have impressed many. Belgium shot stopper Thibaut Courtois has not inked an extension at Chelsea, while bringing De Gea back to Spain’s capital is a long-held dream.
Navas may, finally, be on borrowed time.
There were to be no goals for Ronaldo in the latest Champions League final, but this triviality was not to stop football’s grand ego from stealing the spotlight.
“It was beautiful to be at Real Madrid,” the Portugal international told beIN Sports Spain in the aftermath. “The future of any Madrid player is not important; we have just made history.”
Instantly, the story became about the Ballon d’or holder’s future, rather than the club’s triumph.
Ronaldo may claim to feel 23-years old, but Zidane’s tactics helped protect and enhance a player whose official age is 33.
The 4-3-1-2 formation predominately utilised allowed Benzema to act as a foil up top, while Isco pulled the strings .
Will a new coach think the same way?
Ronaldo’s top speed has noticeably declined this term. He looked unusually ponderous in the Champions League showdown with Liverpool’s exceptional teenage right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Goals flew in 44 times during 44 matches across all competitions, thanks to a stellar 2018. But in La Liga before the winter break, he’d struck on just four occasions during 12 games.
Signs of a slowdown, no matter the extremes of the recovery.
The usual games to land a contract upgrade might fall on deaf ears under another manager. They – and Perez – might see fit to make Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar the new king of Santiago Bernabeu.