Marcello Lippi never thought Real Madrid's Zidane would become a coach
Former Juventus and Italy boss Marcello Lippi has revealed that he was surprised to hear that Zinedine Zidane took up the Real Madrid coaching role.
Zidane, who replaced Rafael Benitez in January as Madrid's head coach, played under Lippi at Juventus and then went up against his former manager at the 2006 World Cup final where he was sent off for headbutting Marco Materazzi.
"I never thought that Zidane would become a coach," Lippi said in an interview with L'Equipe. "I have coached players like [Didier] Deschamps who I knew would do well on the bench, but Zidane was certainly not one of them.
"That being said, I believe Zidane can do well at a big club like Real Madrid. Zidane is intimately familiar with the psychology of top players, in both defeat and victory."
While the Frenchman has done well since his appointment in January, Wednesday's Champions League tie against AS Roma will be the best chance for Zidane to continue in the hunt for silverware. Madrid are 12 points behind league leaders Barcelona in the La Liga.
Carrying a 2-0 advantage from the first leg into this game, Zidane's charges will nail a quarterfinal spot if they fend off Roma's challenge.
Lippi, who last managed in China at Guangzhou Evergrande has warned against passing judgment on his former playmaker, stating that Zidane needs to be given more time to succeed.
"I think it is too early to pass judgment on him," Lippi added.
"He was brought in midway through the season which is always difficult and he needs a preseason to work with his players and get his ideas across.
"People will underestimate him, I am sure of this. People will focus on [Cristiano] Ronaldo on the pitch and forget that Zidane is coach."