Zinedine Zidane has hopped off one of soccer’s hottest thrones.
The Real Madrid head coach resigned Thursday morning just five days after he led the team to its third consecutive UEFA Champions League title. Zidane said at a press conference he’s stepping down because he believes now is the team for Real Madrid to hear from a different voice than his.
“What I think is that this team needs to continue winning but I think it needs a change, a different voice, another methodology,” Zidane said, per The BBC. “This is the right moment for all involved – for me, for the squad, for the club.”
Zidane, 45, on Saturday became the first coach to win three consecutive Champions League titles when he oversaw Real Madrid’s 3-1 win over Liverpool. The triumph represented his ninth major trophy in just two-and-a-half years in charge.
Zidane’s decision stunned Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.
“This was a totally unexpected decision,” Perez said, per The BBC. “Zidane informed me of his choice yesterday.
“This is a sad day for me, for the players and for everyone involved with the club. He knows that I wanted to sign him more than anyone as a player, as well as a coach.
“I would love for him to be by my side forever.”
Real Madrid now must replace one of its greatest-ever leaders, while trying to maintain its standard atop the soccer world and meet fans’ sky-high demands.