Real Madrid's Zinedine Zidane: 'I had no desire to be a coach' after retiring
Real Madrid's Zinedine Zidane said he changed his mind over time about coaching as when he retired as a player in 2006, he had "no desire at all" to take over a team.
Zidane was one of the greatest players of his generation, winning the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 with France and the Champions League with Real Madrid in 2002, as well as the Ballon d'Or in 1998 and FIFA World Player of the Year in 1998, 2000 and 2003.
Although an inspirational captain and leader of his team during games, he was generally a quiet figure in the dressing room and away from the pitch.
Speaking to AS at a legends event in Limoges, France, Zidane said it had taken him some time to realise that coaching would be his next challenge in life.
"When I retired, I had no desire to be a coach, didn't want to do it at all," Zidane said. "I wanted to stop, do something else [but] then I realised that I had to continue with challenges in my life. I prepared for this. Today, I am a coach and happy for it."
Zidane remained close to Madrid on retirement, working first as an informal advisor to club president Florentino Perez, then in various backroom roles at the Bernabeu, including as assistant to first-team coach Carlo Ancelotti and coach of the club's Castilla youth side.
"As I left school very early, I had to prepare," he said. "I did two years as manager, three as a coach. It took five years to get ready. For me, that was an obligation."
Zidane led Madrid to the Champions League trophy within six months of taking over the team in January 2015. A year later, they became the first side to retain that trophy during the modern era and claimed the 2016-17 La Liga title.
This season has been more difficult, with struggles domestically in both La Liga and the Copa del Rey. Zidane has yet to confirm he will remain in the job past the summer, although the mood around the club is now more positive following qualification for the Champions League quarterfinals.
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