- Zinedine Zidane was named The Best FIFA Men’s Coach on 23 October
- In 2017 he won the Club World Cup, the Champions League and La Liga
- "We had to consolidate our success, and that’s never easy" he told FIFA.com
When he retired as a player, Zinedine Zidane’s trophy cabinet was already full to bursting. Now, he has picked up where he left off as a coach, claiming title after title with Real Madrid. On 23 October, he added yet another award to his personal collection when he was named The Best FIFA Men’s Coach ahead of the formidable Italian pairing of Antonio Conte and Massimiliano Allegri.
This latest prize will sit proudly alongside Zizou‘s impressive trophy haul from the 2016/17 season, which included the FIFA Club World Cup and a second successive UEFA Champions League, in addition to the Spanish title. With customary humility, Zinedine Zidane spoke exclusively to FIFA.com about his remarkable run of success.
FIFA.com: Zinedine, last year you told us that you had not expected to be so successful as a coach. This is now the second year in a row that you have been nominated for The Best FIFA Football Awards. Did it come as less of a surprise to you this time around?
Zinedine Zidane: I don’t know if it was any more expected but, in any case, it was my wish. The wish to be able to carry on doing what I love and to try to keep improving as a coach, which is not an easy job. I’m happy to be invited back for a second year running, and I’m pleased with how things are going for me as a coach.
How has the year 2017 differed from what you went through last year?
When you win during your first year, the hardest thing is to do it again the following year. I’m very aware that I’m at a club where people are used to winning trophies. And I know that I’m surrounded by great players. But it’s never easy to win trophies. That goes for the Champions League, of course, but even more so for the Spanish title, which for me is the hardest one of all. We had to consolidate our success, and that’s never easy.
At what point in the season did you sense that those achievements were within your reach?
From the word go! Fighting for silverware is in the DNA of this club. Believing that we’re going to win a trophy is what motivates me, my staff and my players, because we mustn’t forget that they’re the ones competing every weekend out on the pitch. Believing in victory is what drives this sport, and it’s what makes it so magical.
Is there one particular moment from the last year that will stay with you?
It’s all been wonderful. It will all stay with me forever. But if there’s a trophy that I’ll hold dear, then it’s La Liga. Thirty-eight games is a lot of football. The Spanish title is very hard to win.
Everything is going well for you at the moment, and long may it last. But have you allowed yourself to imagine a time when things may not be going quite so well?
Of course! Over a career, a season, a lifetime, you go through highs and lows. If you’re going through a low point, you’ve got to be capable of bouncing back. If you’re on a high, you’ve just got to try and enjoy it for as long as possible. But I’m well aware that my good run at Madrid will have to come to an end one day. I’m prepared for that. For the moment, I’m making the most of the great times I’m experiencing at this club.
You ended the 2016/17 season with a Spanish league and Champions League double, as well as a FIFA Club World Cup winner’s medal. Are you able to take a step back in the face of all that success?
Yes, I really distance myself from it. I won a lot as a player, but it never went to my head. And that’s not going to change now that I’m winning things as a coach. Quite the opposite. I’m more experienced, my children are grown up, I’ve got even more perspective. I’m just making the most of what I’m going through, enjoying it fully but only for what it is.
As a coach, you clearly have a great capacity for managing a dressing room full of stars. What is your secret?
What’s for sure is that I’ve experienced the dressing room as a player. I know how it works. That has helped me. I think that’s the key. As for my supposed capacity for managing big players, I think that it’s driven purely by my passion for football and for my profession.
But when your name is Zinedine Zidane, and with a track record like yours, that forces the players to show more respect...
A bit, maybe. But, more than any World Cup or European Cup winner’s medals, I believe my results as a coach are what count. The important thing is that the players believe in my message, in what I’m putting together. If the players have faith in you, you can go a long way.
Speaking of the World Cup, do you believe that the French team have a chance to win in Russia?
Yes. It’s a young team, with a lot of quality and a lot of individual talent. They could be very dangerous in Russia.
Do you like watching them play?
Before being a player, first and foremost I was always a fan. I like this team. It’s a team that’s growing year after year, with talented young players who are still improving. The future is bright for Les Bleus.
Which teams are capable of standing in their way in Russia?
There are plenty: Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Spain... The teams that always show up for the big occasion!