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By ESPN Staff

Zidane steps down so Real can rebuild

MADRID, April 26 (Reuters) - Real Madrid's France midfielder Zinedine Zidane says he announced his retirement on Tuesday to give the club time to prepare for next season.

'The club need to build a team so that they can win again,' Zidane told Real Madrid television on Wednesday.

'By announcing my retirement now it gives them the chance to go and look for new players before the World Cup, if that is what they want to do.

'They have always been good to me so it is the least I could do for them.'

The 33-year-old said on Tuesday he would retire after leading France at the World Cup in Germany, despite having a year left on his contract with Real.

Looking ahead to the future Zidane said he would like to continue being linked to Real.

'I want to stay close to this club because they have given me so much,' he said.

'It won't be in the front line but in some kind of project, something to do with the children. This idea still needs to be developed.'

Zidane highlighted the Madrid club's recent lack of success, their worst run in 52 years, as a key factor in his decision.

The three-times world player of the year scored the winning goal for Real in the Champions League final at the end of his first season in 2002 and won the World Club Cup later that year.

But the only major trophy he has won since then was a Spanish league title in 2003.

'We haven't won anything for three years and I haven't been playing the way I would like for two,' Zidane added.

'I always play to win and when you can't you have to be realistic.'

In a packed news conference at Real's training ground later on Wednesday, Zidane said there was no chance of him changing his mind after the recent disappointments and an increasing number of niggling injuries.

'When I changed my mind about going back to play with the French national team I was still playing football with Real. This is different,' Zidane said.

'I can't continue playing, and I want to end my career here.'

He said that now his decision was out in the open he could focus on the rest of the season with extra motivation.

'I am suspended for this Sunday's game but have three games after that in a Real shirt when I hope I will be able to help them achieve second place in the league,' he added.

'After that I have one final objective the World Cup. There are many teams who can win in Germany but France have a good squad and we'll do our best.'