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Champions League omens good for Zidane and Real

World Leagues

LONDON – Zinedine Zidane the manager touches down in Britain for a Champions League final this week 15 years after he did so as a player. If it goes as well as it did in 2002, he will have no complaints.

No one who watched his spectacular winner in the 2-1 victory at Hampden Park will ever forget it. Just as no one who followed the Frenchman’s playing career ever believed he would make it as a manager.

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Zinedine Zidane scores his dramatic goal in the 2002 Champions League final for Real Madrid. Photo: EPA

Cesar Sanchez, who started the game in goal for Madrid on the night, told The Mail on Sunday: “Zidane was one of the quiet ones. He never said that much, now he has to do the talking. 

“There were other players in that team that you always expected would go on to coach, but we didn’t really see Zinedine as one of them. What he has done since then is extraordinary.

“To win the Champions League, then the league and reach another Champions League final is huge. And all this after taking over in a difficult situation.”

Marca’s match report of the game in 2002 described his goal as “the ball dropping down from heaven and God himself getting on the end of it”.

Roberto Carlos’ pass was slightly behind the Frenchman, but he left Bayer Leverkusen keeper Hans-Jorg Butt with no chance.

He held the Champions League trophy as a player, and Zinedine Zidane has won it as a coach too. Photo: EPA


“His management of the group has been fantastic,” adds Sanchez of his old team-mate. “There have been tactical variations that he has come up with, so he has the ability to do that too. And don’t confuse this (relaxed) management style with being soft.”

Zidane has handled the world’s most expensive dressing room just as a one-time 78 million-pound world-record signing ought to be able to. His own big-money move started badly in 2001, and he was even booed by the Bernabeu.

Former Madrid coach Vicente del Bosque recalls: “We lost 1-0 to Valencia on his debut. He was very anxious. Between the kicks he received from (David) Albelda (Valencia’s midfield hatchet-man) and the defeat, he was very head down in the dressing room after the game. He knew how much excitement his signing had generated and felt responsible.”

Del Bosque told El Pais: “It’s true he is shy – the hardest thing for him to deal with was the popularity – but it is an attractive shyness, you know there is a big personality behind it.”

He has shown that character in the dug-out just as he showed it on the pitch in 2002.

The Real Madrid squad hoist Zinedine Zidane into the air after winning the La Liga title against Malaga. Photo: EPA


Real Madrid went into the Glasgow final having finished third in the league, and suffering the ignominy of losing the Copa del Rey final 2-1 to Deportivo la Coruna on the day of their centenary in their own stadium.

That made it more important than ever to go home from Hampden with their ninth European Cup.

Raul scored after nine minutes, but Bayern were level three minutes later when Claude Makelele brought down Michael Ballack, and Lucio headed in Thomas Brdaric’s free kick.

Then came Zidane’s guided missile, right on the stroke of halftime.

It would be 12 years before Madrid secured their 10th Champions League triumph, and by then, Zidane was embarking on a coaching career that has since seen him deliver the 11th.

The 12th is now within his grasp, and back on British soil, the omens are good.

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