Zinedine Zidane hails historic Real Madrid win, vows to stay at Bernabeu
Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane accepted that his team had "made history" by beating Juventus 4-1 in Saturday night's final in Cardiff to become the first team to retain the Champions League title in its modern, expanded format.
Two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo as well as further strikes from Casemiro and Marco Asensio were more than enough as Madrid powered past Juventus with a superb second-half performance, with Mario Mandzukic's excellent, acrobatic equaliser before the break not even much of a consolation for the well-beaten Italian champions.
Speaking at the postgame news conference at the Principality Stadium, Zidane said his players had deserved to complete the club's first La Liga and European Cup double since 1958.
"They have made history, for sure," Zidane, whose club won their third UCL title in four seasons, said. "Nobody has done it, and now we have. Today is a historic day for all Madridistas, for the players, for me, for all our family. But saying this, you know how it is. Next year will be much more difficult. We will have to work a lot to try and win again. But today we can say we are a very good team, and we deserved to win La Liga and the Champions League. It was not easy."
Zidane had said in recent weeks that he was not sure he would continue next season, but he was happy to say he plans on continuing on the job and would soon start planning for next the upcoming campaign.
"Of course I am staying, we must think now about next year," Zidane said. "I cannot confirm I will be here my whole life, as that does not happen. But I am very happy and thankful to this club to have the chance to coach these tremendous players. I have a year left on my contract, but the important thing is to enjoy what we have achieved this year.
"I played here many years, and this club is in my heart. Now we will rest a bit and then think about next season."
Asked what had been most important in his team's success, Zidane said that hard work allied to natural talent had been the key.
"A lot of hard work," he said. "There is a lot of talent, but the key has been hard work, and thinking that when you think you are going to achieve things working hard, with this squad it is possible. As a coach of this team I am very proud of them all. In the end the key has been that each of them brought their own grain of salt."
The Frenchman said his half-time team talk had been pretty simple: He only wanted his players to keep possession and play more in the Juve half.
"At half-time I told them to keep going, but to play a bit higher up the pitch, and to keep the ball," he said. "And in the second half we did that."
Zidane said things had turned out well for Gareth Bale, who was not quite fit enough to start the final, but had been able to celebrate the final victory in his hometown of Cardiff.
"For Bale it was very important to reach this final," he said. "Then I have to choose the team. But I am very happy for Bale, he was able to play the game in his home city."
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan